Mets Bullpen Issues Provide Dodgers Playoff Roster Flexibility

Dario Alvarez strained his left groin on Tuesday night. You don’t know who that is, and why should you? His Major League career to date consists of 22 batters faced. Earlier, Jerry Blevins broke his arm, twice. Alex Torres was DFA’d. Josh Edgin blew out his elbow. So did Jack Leathersich. Eric O’Flaherty has allowed 22 base runners and 11 runs in eight innings since he was traded from Oakland. Sean Gilmartin has been surprisingly effective considering he was a Rule 5 pick, but he’s also put up something of a reverse split in his first big league season, allowing lefties to hit him harder than righties.

If you don’t have a damn idea what I’m talking about right now, understand that this has been a quick review of the lefty relievers the Mets, the likely NLDS opponent of the Dodgers, have tried to get by with. Understand further that New York’s first two starters are Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, both righties, and after that some combination of righties Bartolo Colon & Noah Syndergaard and lefty Jon Niese. (Lefty Steven Matz may figure in there somewhere, though he’s pitched just four games so far.) Which is to say: The Mets don’t have a ton of weapons from the left side of the mound.

That’s a good thing, maybe. Though the Dodgers hit lefties well (best in the National League, actually), look at the top three names on the wRC+ list against lefties: Justin Ruggiano, who has done so in a very small sample and probably isn’t making the postseason roster. Enrique Hernandez, who we’ve heard very little about since he hurt his hamstring and may or may not be available. Yasiel Puig, who is also out with a hamstring injury and seems a long-shot at best to be healthy in time.

You’ll notice they’re all outfielders. Does anyone want a primary outfield of Joc Pederson, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford (and Scott Van Slyke, obviously) against a team that has a ton of lefty pitching? Of course not, and no, we’re not even discussing Alex Guerrero. You can get around that in the regular season thanks to expanded rosters by throwing out Ruggiano and Chris Heisey, but that’s not going to fly in the postseason.

Possibly exacerbating that is that it felt kind of hard to whittle things down to a playoff roster a month ago, and that was before Corey Seager and Chase Utley arrived. They’re both going to make it — yes, I’ve moved to Seager is basically a lock, no matter whether he starts over Jimmy Rollins and/or Justin Turner or not — and they’re both lefties too. (We’ll call Utley a backup for now with Howie Kendrick likely to return in the next few days.)

If we say that the Dodgers will keep five reserves (as they did last year), we’re already up to three when you include Seager, Utley, and the backup catcher. You could see how, if Puig and Hernandez can’t go, there would suddenly be an issue if the team was inundated with lefty pitching in the postseason. But as odd as it sounds considering how dominant the young Mets pitching has been, this is a pretty big silver lining. If the Mets are going to throw nothing but righty pitching, the Dodgers will be well-prepared to answer with tons of lefty bats.

This is a bit premature, obviously. We don’t know for sure if or when Puig and Hernandez can return, and Rollins (battling a finger injury) and Van Slyke (cyst on hand) are dealing with issues of their own. Probably, someone else will get hurt in an especially annoying way before rosters have to be set next month. The big step forward by Seager has changed things, though. That the Mets are so righty-heavy changes things right back.

 

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.