The hard-throwing Rhame was lights out in his small sample size with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s last season, allowing only one run on two hits and striking out 11 of the 20 batters he faced.
Rhame was a September call-up for the Mets, but the results were not good with a 9.00 ERA and 2.11 WHIP in his nine innings of big league work. His fastball looked uncharacteristically flat and he struggled with command walking seven batters in that nine inning span.
Well, neither of those have been an issue for Rhame this spring. His fastball, hitting 97/98 MPH at times has showed late life, and he has walked only one in seven innings. In that span, he’s allowed just two runs on seven hits and struck out nine. His offspeed stuff has been more consistent for the tall righty as well.
The Mets currently have four locks for the bullpen in Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak. It’s very likely that we see a starter take the fifth spot in the bullpen with Seth Lugo looking like the front-runner. That leaves two or three spots left open in the pen depending on if they decide to carry seven or eight relievers.
Next up we have Paul Sewald, who has pitched well this spring with a 2.16 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 8.1 innings. The Mets had certainly hoped Rafael Montero would pitch at least reasonably well to keep him on the roster given he is out of options, but his ugly 10.50 ERA is pushing him off the team.
That brings us up to seven relievers and still without a second lefty. The left-handed Matt Purke has struggled with a 2.22 WHIP in five innings and lefties have hit him hard. The only other lefty reliever that has pitched is P.J. Conlon, though he hasn’t made an appearance since March 4 despite a solid 2.70 ERA in 6.2 innings.
This brings me back to Jacob Rhame, who while being right-handed has pitched quite well against lefties in the minor leagues the past three seasons. Last season, he held lefties to a .637 OPS and allowed only one home run (Daniel Murphy of course) in 107 plate appearances with two Triple-A teams and the majors.
In 2016, Rhame held lefties to a .205/.330/.295 slash line allowing only four extra base hits in 125 plate appearances while pitching the entire season in Triple-A. He spent the 20015 season between High-A and Double-A ball for the Dodgers, limiting lefties to a .451 OPS and no home runs in 97 plate appearances.
The Mets could certainly use another guy in the Opening Day bullpen that has proven he can get lefties out and Rhame certainly fits that bill. He’d be a welcomed addition to a team that has no clear cut second LOOGY.