This offseason, new Mets’ general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, has brought in a ton of new talent and has bolstered some important needs around the diamond. One of which is the bullpen, which is slated to be strong, especially in the back end.
Let’s take a look at five pitchers who you should keep an eye on in Spring Training, that will be fighting for bullpen spots in 2019.
Luis Avilan, LHP
One of the more under the radar moves of the winter for the Mets came when they inked southpaw Luis Avilan to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Avilan, 29, spent last year with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, where he appeared in 70 games and logged a 3.77 ERA, 3.09 FIP, and 10.1 K/9 in 45.1 innings pitched.
Throughout his seven year big league career, Avilan has been a reliable arm out of the bullpen. He has a career ERA of 3.09 and a FIP of 3.25 across those seasons, four of which came with the Atlanta Braves and three with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Last year, Avilan held left-handed hitters to a .220/.304/.341 clip in 93 plate appearances. For his career, he has held them to an even lower .213/.289/.292.
In regards to players without a lock for a roster spot, I think Avilan has the best chance of breaking camp with the Mets and being their LOOGY out of the bullpen in 2019.
Kyle Dowdy, RHP
At the end of the winter meetings, the Mets used a Rule Five pick to select right-hander Kyle Dowdy out of the Cleveland Indians organization.
Dowdy, 26, was originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB draft, but came over to Cleveland midseason in 2018.
Jack Ramsey of MetsMerized wrote an article about the right-hander after the Mets took him in the Rule Five dradt in December.
“Dowdy is a hard throwing righty, who was said to have hit 99 miles per hour during starts last year in Akron, and had a jump of almost five MPH after being dealt from Detroit to Cleveland. He also throws a changeup, curveball and cutter with the latter being his best secondary offering. The folks at 2080 Baseball gave a scouting report on what they saw in July.”
Dowdy has spent most of his minors career as a starter, starting 58 games and relieving in only 20. Mets’ GM Brodie Van Wagenen raved about his upside after the selection.
“We brought a big group of professional scouts down here this week and we were locked in the room for hours and hours, and to get consensus on a guy that we believe has tremendous upside,” he said.
The Mets must keep Dowdy on their 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2019. If the Mets choose not to keep him on the active roster, Dowdy can be offered back to the Indians for $50,000, which is why he is worth watching this Spring and has a real chance at cracking the Opening Day roster.
Arquimedes Caminero, RHP
Another minor league deal with a Spring Training invite is right-hander Arquimedes Caminero.
The 31-year-old has pitched across four seasons in the MLB, the last of which came in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners.
Caminero is a guy who throws heat and had a solid 2015 campaign with Pittsburgh where he appeared in 71 games and logged a 3.62 ERA and 3.80 FIP.
He has most recently pitched in Japan, but is back in the states now and is looking to compete for a job with the Mets.
Jacob Resnick of MetsMerized wrote a terrific article on the righty, which is a must read and can be found here.
Honorable mentions: Apart from these three dark horse candidates going into this season, a few other players to keep your eyes on who will be competing for spots in the Mets’ bullpen are left-hander Daniel Zamora, and right-handers Drew Smith, Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold, all of which we got to see in some capacity in 2018.