New York Mets News

Rafael Montero: Mets Season in Review

By Andrew Battifarano

We continue our 2014 Mets Season in Review series with rookie right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero.

After a long-awaited debut, Montero an up-and-down experience in the majors this season.

How he fared in 2014:

Aug 17, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets reliever Rafael Montero (50) leaves the game in the eight inning against the Chicago Cubs at inning at Citi Field. The Chicago Cubs won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Montero made his Citi Field debut during the 2013 Futures Games as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities. His one-inning performance in that game and solid numbers in the minor leagues made fans eager to see the right-hander’s stuff at the major league level. On May 14 against the rival Yankees, he finally got his chance.

He took the loss in his debut, getting out-pitched by the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka. Though he was only charged for three runs in the outing, Montero lacked a solid off-speed pitch and did not have the pinpoint control he was noted for having at the lower levels.

The rookie made three more starts in May, and although he struck out 10 Diamondbacks in one appearance, Montero still had little command of his pitches, walking at least two hitters each time out. His walks per nine rate, which had generally been below two, was 4.67. By the time May was over, Montero was sent back to Las Vegas to make room for other pitchers.

Montero came back to Queens in mid-August and made four more starts before season’s end. He finally earned his first win on Sept. 10 against the Rockies in shutout 5 1/3 innings.

At the end of the season, he compiled a 1-3 record, 4.06 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP.

Areas to improve upon:

Montero was known for impeccable control throughout his minor league career. That was expected to carry over to the big leagues. It didn’t. His walk rate (11.9 percent) and strikeout-to-walk rate (9.8 percent) were not exactly in line with his usual numbers. If he wants to compete for a starting role on next year’s team, his command needs to return.

Projected role in 2015: 

Either a back-end starter or middle reliever is most likely where Montero will land if he indeed stays with the Mets. Going up against the likes of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, there is not much room for Montero in the rotation. He would have to wow coaches and the front office away with his spring training.

The Mets built up a strong bullpen last year, and that was because of the depth and consistent pitching they received from young arms. He might not have a rotation spot locked up, but Montero in the bullpen could be a good room. He has the durability to give you multiple innings in any appearance.

Contract status and trade rumors:

He’s signed until 2020, so he provides the Mets a good trade chip this offseason. The team appears unwilling to deal anyone like Syndergaard or deGrom, so pitchers like Montero and Gee appear to be players the Mets would trade for a shortstop or left fielder. As much as he could provide the Mets depth and help in either bullpen or as a spot starter, it appears a trade could benefit both parties the most.