Mets Roster: Mike Montgomery is an early contender to land the long relief role
By Tim Boyle
Depth is one area where the New York Mets are far from short. Seeing their lack of Triple-A caliber starting pitchers, the club made it a mission this winter to add some MLB experience to the organization. Many of those guys will pitch for the Syracuse Mets as starters. One is likely to land the long reliever role in the bullpen.
According to FanGraphs, the early favorite is Mike Montgomery. The veteran lefty has spent his career bouncing between a starter and relief role. He comes to the Mets after parts of six years in the big leagues and a career ERA of 3.84.
Montgomery is signed to a minor league deal, likely because his best days are a few too many years in the past. In a long relief role, perhaps things turn out better.
Mets need a long reliever, especially with Seth Lugo sidelined
Long relievers aren’t always used the same way they were in past seasons. Often used for mop-up duties in blowouts going in either direction, big league clubs don’t seem to typically waste a roster spot on a guy to do this exclusively. Having followed the Mets especially close since 2018 when I joined Rising Apple, I can’t think of a single reliever who fit the prototype.
Seth Lugo has evolved into more than a middle relief innings eater. He’s far more valuable than that. A case could be made to say Robert Gsellman, at times, was closer to an average long reliever we would have seen in past years. Even he has a little more upside earlier on and seemed to transition away from pitching more than two innings.
While the Mets might be able to survive without a long reliever, it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy like Montgomery on the team.
Mike Montgomery will need to fight to keep his roster spot
And even if Montgomery makes the Opening Day roster, there’s little security that he’ll stay there. Noah Syndergaard’s return midyear will change things a lot. Whichever starter he replaces in the bullpen will either find himself in Triple-A or taking on a bullpen job.
An added benefit of having Montgomery on the team is they could always start him on short notice. Considering we’ll probably see a few more doubleheaders than usual yet again this year, he might be even more important. We could see him start or simply take on a few extra innings to prevent the rest of the bullpen arms from going dead.
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First, Montgomery needs to make the club. Spring training isn’t just about stretching. It’s about earning a spot on the team.