If the Mets regular season were to start today, the Mets would have to choose between Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin, and Sean Gilmartin to be the two left-handers out of the Mets bullpen. However, the Mets regular season does not start for another two months and it seems likely that General Manager, Sandy Alderson will add a veteran left-handed relief pitcher to fill that void before April 3rd.
Whether it is resigning Jerry Blevins or bringing in somebody else such as Boone Logan, Javier Lopez or others, either way one of the southpaws within the Mets organization needs to step up and be the second left-hander out of the bullpen in 2017.
Smoker, Edgin, and Gilmartin are all very similar left-handed pitchers as all three of them bounced back and forth between the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas last season and have had their share of struggles at the big league level. However, each of these guys has a different appealing case to be that second lefty out of the Mets bullpen this upcoming season.
At age 28, Josh Smoker finally made his long awaited big league debut last season for the New York Mets as he got called up in mid-August. Once upon a time, Smoker was a first round draft pick in the 2007 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals but has struggled throughout his minor league career before 2016.
Smoker showed great flashes of potential late last season as he went 3-0 with a 4.70 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and four walks in 15.1 innings at the big league level. Smoker is a hard throwing lefty who averages around 95 on his fastball and put up some good stats in 2016. However, the main concern with Smoker is that he wasn’t really all that dominant when facing left-handed batters as lefties hit .360 off of him while right-handed hitters batted .200 against him in 2016.
Even though Smoker put up some solid stats last season, if he wants to be a good major league left-handed relief pitcher, he must improve on getting left-handed hitters out as a majority of his assignments out of the bullpen would come against left-handed batters. If Smoker has a solid Spring Training and can show improvement on getting the left-handed hitters out, Smoker could have a good case to make the Opening Day roster.
Out of these three left-handers, Edgin is the one with the most big league experience as he is 30 years old and made his major league debut with the Mets in 2012. Since getting called up that year, Edgin improved every year as he ended 2014 with an ERA of 1.32 with 28 strikeouts and six walks in 47 appearances with lefties only batting .185 off of him. However, Edgin got injured during Spring Training in 2015 which led to him getting Tommy John Surgery and missing the entirety of the Mets magical 2015 season.
Edgin’s injury seemed to really derail his big league career as he struggled mightily in Spring Training last season, which led to him getting demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas to start the season. Edgin got off to a slow start in Las Vegas but improved as the season went along, which led to him getting recalled to the big leagues in August.
Even though left-handed hitters were only batting .235 off of Edgin last season, Edgin was still very inconsistent and didn’t look like the pitcher he once was before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Edgin has to prove this Spring Training that he can still be a solid big league relief pitcher and does have a chance to make the Opening Day roster as he is the most experienced left-handed pitcher the Mets have in their organization right now.
And last but not least, Sean Gilmartin. Out of these three southpaws, Gilmartin has the lowest velocity on his pitches as his fastball averages around 88 MPH and is more known for his off-speed pitchers unlike Smoker and Edgin who heavily rely on their mid to high 90s fastballs to get hitters out.
After having a solid rookie year in 2015 where he went 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 54 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 50 appearances, Gilmartin had a really disappointing season for the Mets in 2016. Gilmartin started his season in the minors and got called back up to the Mets on multiple occurrences. Gilmartin saw 14 total big league appearances last season and posted a really high ERA of 7.13 and batters were hitting .300 against him. Gilmartin did have a good season at getting left-handed hitters out as they only batted .226 off of him, it just seemed like he got constantly rocked against right-handed hitters.
The bullpen situation the Mets have now does not seem to favor Gilmartin as he is more of a long relief type of pitcher while Smoker and Edgin are more of one inning at most relief pitchers. With the Mets having such great depth in the starting rotation, it seems very likely that either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman will be the guy that holds down the long relief role for the Mets to start 2017, leaving Gilmartin as the odd man out.
Even though it seems likely that Sandy Alderson will sign a veteran lefty specialist before the start of the season, the Mets still need one of these guys to step up and have a solid 2017 season out of the bullpen. With the Mets playing in the NL East and their divisional foes having really dangerous left-handed hitters such as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Freddie Freeman, Justin Bour, and more, they will likely have to rely heavily on their lefty specialists throughout the season if the Mets want to take back the NL East.