After signing minor league deals in the offseason with the ability to fight for a job, both John Lannan and Jose Valverde have been added to the New York Mets’ 40 man roster. The two are in prime position to start the season with the big league team, both likely in the bullpen.
Valverde spend most of his career with the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, and Arizona Diamondbacks, racking up more than 280 saves in his career. After a 35-save campaign in 2012, he struggled in the playoffs leading to his release. He was eventually brought back by the Tigers but pitched to a 5.59 ERA and earned a trip to the minor leagues.
After a solid spring and struggles from other bullpen pitchers, Valverde looks to be in position to start the season as the set-up man for closer Bobby Parnell. Manager Terry Collins has also said that if Parnell needs a day off early in the season due to coming back from injury, Valverde would step in to the closer’s role.
John Lannan is a former ace for the Washington Nationals, but also spent some time last year with the Phillies before coming to the Mets. He has struggled with injuries in the past few seasons, leading for his descent out of starting rotations.
The Mets believe that they have found a role for Lannan as a left-hander out of the bullpen. A second left-handed reliever is always important considering the excess of left-handed power hitters in the division such as Ryan Howard, Adam Laroche, Freddy Freeman, Chase Utley and Bryce Harper. However, Lannan has other uses. Because of his time as a starter he is equally effective against righties. Furthermore he can “eat innings” for the team if they need him to. Additionally he can be used as a spot starter in case of injury or double-header without the team needing to change the roster.
Lannan and Valverde can also provide something that can prove to be more valuable than any statistics they produce. They can help out the younger pitchers in the bullpen. The rest of the bullpen is mostly young pitchers who have spent only a moderate amount of time in the big leagues. Pitchers like Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen or Vic Black, when he returns to Flushing, can find important insights from these two pitchers who have had much more major league experience.
However, if Lannan and Valverde do not perform, the Mets do have other options. Kyle Farnsworth resigned with the club and will most likely report to the minor leagues. Vic Black is also on the roster but will open the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. Josh Edgin is an additional left-handed option who has spent some time in the majors but was demoted earlier in camp this spring.
On the whole this could shape up to be a very beneficial situation for the Mets. The success of the bullpen will be a big indicator of the success of the team and if these veterans can lead the unit, along with Bobby Parnell, the Mets, and Mets fans, could be looking a greener pastures in the near future.