PORT ST. LUCIE – It will be impossible to replace Aaron Loup, who finished last season with an ERA under 1.00, but the Mets have options.
Unless they ignore those options and choose not to even try to fill his studs.
“Nobody said we had to wear a lefty,” said manager Buck Showalter before the Mets beat the Cardinals 7-3 on Sunday. “It’s not a written rule.”
The candidates have looked solid, but chances are nobody will win the leftist contest. With the roster expected to expand to 28 players by May 1 — and the Mets already expecting five right-handed starting pitchers — it’s hard to imagine the Mets getting everything right in the bullpen.
There’s likely a roster fight further down the line between former Met and Yankee Chasen Shreve and eight-year veteran Alex Claudio, who are in camp for minor league deals. There is no southpaw on the Mets 40-man roster.
Shreve has pitched two scoreless innings while Claudio, a former Ranger, Brewer and Angel, has pitched three in the Grapefruit League. Long shot opportunities include 30-year-old Rob Zastryzny (three innings scoreless).
“As announced, everyone presented themselves well – not only [Shreve] and Claudio, but there are a few other options here,” Showalter said.
The best known is Shreve, who played 4 1/2 seasons in New York – the first few with the Yankees before joining Queens in 2020 – and who eyed the Mets’ holes from the left side.
“It’s one of the reasons I chose the Mets. I knew they needed left-handed help,” Shreve said. “I’ve spent most of my career in New York. So it was a place I really wanted to go back to at some point and it just worked out.”
The now 31-year-old was a dependable in the Bronx from 2015 to 2018 before being included in the Deadline deal with the Cardinals that brought Luke Voit to New York.
The Mets rushed him after the Cardinals, and Shreve spent his 2021 season in Pittsburgh, where he had a 3.20 ERA in 56 ¹/₃ innings.
Shreve said his key to success still lies in setting up bats for his sliver, which batsmen hit .203 against last season. He’s started throwing his four-seam fastball more into the zone, which he’s hoping hitters will mistake for a splinter and therefore discard. Recently, in a live batting practice, Pete Alonso picked up some shrapnel that Shreve thought would lead to chases because Alonso assumed the floor would fall out of the field.
“Throw [the fastball] below helps to get a lot [takes from hitters] – When they see the ball down, all they think about is splinters,” Shreve said. “And then when I throw a fastball into the zone for a shot and then throw my splinter off, it’s harder to give up.”
In a division that requires late-game outs against lefties like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper and Matt Olson, the Mets will likely have to decide if Shreve is the best pick.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/27/chasen-shreve-battling-to-win-mets-lefty-bullpen-job/ Chasen Shreve in contention for Mets left bullpen job