The only situation Buck Showalter should use Joely Rodriguez in the playoffs

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Joely Rodriguez has been dragged through the proverbial mud all year long. Most of it is justified. The lone lefty who managed to make it through the season from Opening Day onward hasn’t been the most reliable of relievers for the New York Mets. The team probably should have him on their playoff roster but with a very specific purpose.

The Mets don’t intend to use their bullpen all that much in the postseason. Edwin Diaz will be prepared for more than three out saves. Adam Ottavino is a lock to be the setup man. In between them and the starters, there shouldn’t be all that many outs to secure.

For a pitcher like Rodriguez, there’s only one way Buck Showalter should use him.

Mets reliever Joely Rodriguez is a pawn on the MLB playoff chess board

Because of the three-batter minimum rule, there’s no summoning Rodriguez from the bullpen to go against a single left-handed hitter. He might have to face some righties which is fine. He’s no more reliable against one over the other. What the Mets need to be fully aware of are the lefties, like their very own Daniel Vogelbach, who might make Rodriguez look a lot better.

We don’t yet know for sure who the Mets will face in the playoffs but every team has a left-handed hitter on their roster. Certain clubs might not have their Vogelbach—a guy who traditionally mashes righties but gets fooled too easily by southpaws. In those instances, Rodriguez doesn’t serve much of a purpose on the Mets playoff roster.

It’s only in those situations where there are two outs and that specific lefty coming up to bat when Rodriguez should ever see the mound in the postseason. The Mets have too many other better relievers to turn to. Rodriguez has not earned our trust this year. Outside of this one specific circumstance, Showalter needs to stay away.

Of course, it goes deeper than seeing who’s at the plate. If Rodriguez comes on the hill with two runners on and gives up a hit, he’ll have to stay for at least two more batters. Will the game get out of control if he does?

The Mets must be cautious in any instance when using Rodriguez. Perhaps even the home and road splits should be a consideration. In his first 27.1 innings of work this year at Citi Field, he has a 3.62 ERA and a .202 batting average against. On the road, Rodriguez has been rocked to a 6.30 ERA and hitters are batting .273 versus him.

There is a way to use Rodriguez on the MLB playoff chess board. Only due to a lack of better left-handed options, we’ll probably see him with the team for as long as they survive.

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