It's possible the Mets put three left-handed relievers in their Opening Day bullpen, sources recently told the NY Post's Mike Puma.
According to Puma, lefties Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin are being considered for the 25-man roster, which will also include LHP Jerry Blevins, who signed a two-year deal this past winter.
"Smoker's success this spring against righties makes him a possible crossover option who wouldn't be considered a pure lefty specialist," Puma explains. "Edgin has also had success against righties."
Oct 2, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Josh Edgin (66) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
In eight relief appearances this spring, Smoker, 28, has allowed one run and struck out eight batters. Meanwhile, Edgin, 30, has also struck out eight batters in eight appearances, but allowed three runs and walked four batters.
"Smoker has got the power stuff to get out anybody, and he's throwing the ball well right now," manager Terry Collins said after the game. And, "Edgin's slider is back," he added.
The Mets typically carry seven, sometimes eight relievers to start the season. So, that means eight to 10 pitchers are competing for just two - maybe three - bullpen spots.
Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles and Blevins are locks to be on the Opening Day roster. Of course, in the event Familia is suspended due to last October's domestic violence accusation, an extra pitcher will temporarily replace him.
As I'll explain in a post later today, my hunch is Lugo is also a lock for the bullpen, while Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman either stay back in St. Lucie or start the year in Triple-A. In that case, it basically leaves two open spots, since it's assumed Familia will be absent through at least the middle of May.
Reed, Salas, Lugo, Robles and Blevins can handle the bulk of the work in Familia's absence, so the two extra relievers can be more surgical and/or ready for mop-up duty.
Mar 10, 2016; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Josh Smoker (49) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
I expect Edgin to also make the cut, because 1) he looks healthy and is pitching well this spring, 2) he has big-league experience, and 3) he's out of minor league options, so he would have to clear waivers to be sent to Triple-A.
The final spot in the bullpen will likely come down to Smoker, Rafael Montero, Paul Sewald and Ben Rowen. However, the Mets typically like having Montero in Triple-A, because they clearly view him as a starting pitcher and probably want him ready in case of emergency. And, while Sewald is a terrific story in camp, the Mets will almost certainly conclude that he's better served getting work in relief at Triple-A, from where they can call on him if needed down the stretch.
In other words, the final decision should end up being between Smoker and Rowen. Personally, I'd choose Rowen, because he has such a unique look being a sidearmer and - with Edgin and Blevins - the Mets will already have two left-handed relievers on the roster. But, we'll see...