The latest Mets injury exposes a missing piece on the roster
By Tim Boyle
Brooks Raley landed on the IL with elbow inflammation and with a snap of the fingers the New York Mets no longer have a southpaw in their bullpen.
David Peterson has been sent down to the minors. Joey Lucchesi is starting. David Robertson, an incredibly effective reliever versus lefty hitters, has been Buck Showalter main guy in the ninth.
What’s a team to do with a bullpen without a single lefty in it? The Mets can get by but they should have their finger on the pulse of other options currently with the ball club.
The NY Mets do have a couple of pitchers to consider calling up
Although the 40-man roster doesn’t have a lefty on it to replace Raley, there are some healthy lefties in Triple-A pitching well. Veteran T.J. McFarland is one of them. The other two are Zach Muckenhirn and Josh Walker. All have started off well on the farm this season. If the Mets feel they need to call one of them up, they have a few other parts to consider.
Long-term, McFarland is probably the guy. He has major league experience. Although he was roughed up last year in the majors, the Mets wouldn’t have to worry about any of those rookie jitters. The one caveat is he doesn’t have minor league options. A backhanded pro to this is the Mets may force themselves to keep a second lefty in the bullpen a little longer. They would, of course, need to find a spot on the 40-man roster for him or the other two pitchers. Moving someone to the 60-day IL is one of the more practical actions to take.
McFarland is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA this year with Syracuse. Walker is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA but has a couple of unearned runs allowed. Muckenhirn has a 0.77 ERA in just under a dozen innings. The Mets could roll the dice with any of them. All would be arms to use sparingly with an intention of using them as exclusively as possible against left-handed hitters with the occasional appearance in a blowout.
The absence of Raley and any other lefty relievers probably means Robertson’s presence late in ball games will be even more specifically targeted to take on the toughest lefties in the lineup. It’s the sixth and seventh innings where we might be a little more concerned.