Home News How the Mets plan to get by without left-hander Brooks Raley

How the Mets plan to get by without left-hander Brooks Raley

Once again, the Mets are light on lefties.

With left-handed reliever Brooks Raley set to be out long-term as he tries to figure out the best course of action for his injured elbow, the Mets’ bullpen is down to one left-handed reliever, veteran Jake Diekman. This was the case last year when Raley was the only lefty and there were times when former manager Buck Showalter lamented the lack of lefty relievers.

The need for situational left-handers is long gone with the three-batter minimum rule, but the NL East is stacked with tough left-handed hitters and the Mets need someone current manager Carlos Mendoza can go to in late-inning situations to get out guys like Matt Olson and Bryce Harper.

Mendoza, however, is fine with the options in the bullpen. The Mets have right-handers with decent splits against left-handed hitters, namely Adam Ottavino and Yohan Ramirez.

Ottavino’s role as an eighth-inning setup man isn’t likely to change much, but the Mets might be more willing to play the matchup game to get the veteran right-hander against certain left-handed hitters.

“He will continue to get the ball in high-leverage situations, especially towards the back end before we hand it to Diaz,” Mendoza said Sunday at Citi Field. “I’m very comfortable with Otto facing lefties because of what we’ve seen. It’s not a secret that in the past, he’s been a right-on-right killer, but to his credit, he has continued to develop pitches. Whether it’s the cutter, the changeup, the backdoor sweeper, he’s got weapons to get lefties out and righties.

“I feel comfortable with him in any situation.”

Ottavino struggled to get left-handed hitters out throughout much of his career, but in 2022 he developed a changeup to throw to lefties and last year he added a cutter. The 38-year-old Ottavino has always been sort of a master of reinvention, and though there have been some bumps and big hits along the way, Ottavino is once again off to a solid start this season, going 1-1 with a save, five holds and a 3.14 ERA in 14 1/3innings.

He’s holding left-handed hitters to a .130 average and a .622 OPS. However, both home runs he’s given up have come against left-handed hitters.

Ramirez, who was designated for assignment and lost off waivers, only to return to the Mets as a waiver claim a few weeks later, has reverse splits. Left-handed hitters are hitting just .200 off him this season and he’s allowed only one extra-base hit (a double).

Right-handers Sean Reid-Foley, Reed Garrett and Drew Smith have similar numbers against righties and lefties. Smith is expected to return from a rehab assignment this week.

The Mets have also used left-handed minor leaguers Josh Walker, Danny Young and Tyler Jay at points this season. Walker and Young are on the 40-man roster, along with left-handed starter Joey Lucchesi, but the Mets are keeping him stretched out. Walker and Young will be back again this season, as will right-hander Grant Hartwig, who excelled against lefties last season as a rookie.

This would have been a prime opportunity to call up left-handed relief prospect Nate Lavender, but he’s likely headed for Tommy John surgery.

So, the Mets will roll with Diekman for the time being. His workload is set to increase, but the Mets are confident that the 37-year-old is up for the challenge.

“This is a guy that’s been in this league for a long time and had a pretty good career,” Mendoza said. “He takes the ball and always wants to be there. That says a lot about who he is and what we’ve got back there. He’s the only lefty, but this is a guy that’s going to get big outs for us.”


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