What is Rafael Montero’s role in 2015?

Rafael MonteroAs the New York Mets start approaching the beginning of Spring Training, players will be excited to be back, and eager to know their role in the upcoming season. Bloggers and reporters who follow the team have been writing about possible position battles that will take place in Spring Training, but there has not been much talk or curiosity about Rafael Montero’s role on the ball club for this season. A crowded starting rotation has pushed Montero out of the picture, but how do the Mets maximize Montero’s value this season?

Although there is still some time in this offseason, Sandy Alderson’s inability to trade a veteran, such as Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee has created a logjam in the rotation. Gee will most likely begin the season as the long-relief pitcher and emergency starter, leaving Montero with a possible role in the bullpen or gaining more experience in the minor leagues.

Last season, Montero went 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA, and 42 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. The main problem for Montero was keeping the ball in the yard, as he allowed 8 home runs last season. This is worrying, but in his last two starts, he pitched 10.2 innings and allowed one run over those two starts. Granted, that is only two starts, and they were against the Rockies and Astros, so the sample size is small. The potential to be a good starting pitcher is there, but is this the year that the Mets make Montero into a reliever?

Transitioning from a starting pitcher to a reliever has become common in the Mets organization, as the main three relievers on the team were starters when they came up. Jenrry Mejia has made 18 MLB starts, Jeurys Familia started one game in the MLB, but had 111 Minor League starts in the minors, and Bobby Parnell made eight starts in the MLB before becoming a reliever. These three relievers are going to compete for the closer role in the bullpen, so transitioning from the rotation to the bullpen has been done successfully.

Montero could become a valuable piece in the bullpen, as he can strike out hitters and he has shown solid control throughout his career in the minors. He even has two saves in the minors when he was 20 years old. This may not be the season to throw Montero into the closer discussion, but working out of the bullpen could be quite handy for the Mets this season.

The other route is for Montero to begin the season in the Minor Leagues and call him up if there is a need for a pitcher. Even though Montero is young, it seems starting him in the minors would not maximize his value. If Montero started out in Triple-A Las Vegas, he would join top prospect Noah Syndergaard on the waiting list to be called up.

The starting rotation will have an open spot next season, as Bartolo Colon’s contract will expire, but that seems to be Syndergaard’s spot and with the Mets willing to trade Jon Niese, another spot could open. This spot could go to Montero, but it could also go to Steven Matz, who is probably a year or two away from being in the big leagues. This means that Montero could be the sixth guy in the rotation, meaning Montero could split time in the bullpen and the rotation.

This is the role that would make Montero the most valuable to the big league team this season. Of course it will be difficult keeping his arm stretched out when he needs to start, but his stuff would definitely be an addition to the bullpen.

8 comments for “What is Rafael Montero’s role in 2015?

  1. Julian
    February 1, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve always seen him as a guy who could be a solid back-end starter, but after his showing last season I’m not so sure. I believe he could be the swingman/long reliever, but he just allowed too many walks, hits, and home runs to actually be effective.

  2. Metsense
    February 1, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    The Bartolo Colon signing has impeded Montero. Montero should have been pitching in Colon’s spot in the rotation and it would have been a bumpy ride and maybe the Mets would not have finished in second place. It would have been a good evaluation period though.
    In 2015, Montero is probably behind Gee and Syndergaard on the rotation depth chart. If Matz has an impressive spring then I would consider moving Montero to the bullpen.That is where he will eventually end up with such a strong starting rotation. In April if Matz doesn’t look like he is ready to be an emergency major league starter waiting as insurance in AAA then Montero will need to fill that role.
    I am disappointed in the way that Montero has been handled by the Mets.

  3. February 1, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I understand why Sandy brought in Colon through free agency. Harvey went down and Colon was a veteran innings eater with solid season and more gas in the tank. It was necessary. We couldn’t bank on Montero and deGrom’s ROY call up came from Left Field! ;)

    Hopefully, Sandy can unload Colon and Gee, as the season unfolds. Injuries to a winning team in need can drive motivation and greed!

    About Niese, He’s our only Lefty, so I’d rather keep him. Injuries hurt his demand anyway. Sure looking forward to seeing Matz continue to develop!!! He’d probably be in the show now, but Tommy John surgery.

    • February 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      No offense, Dean, but I keep seeing this revisionist defense of Bartolo Colon as an “innings eater.” But if you go back over his previous 5-6 seasons, the 41-year-old was far from as sure thing as an innings eater. It was fairly amazing that the Mets got 202 IP out of Bartolo last year. Based on his track record, I’d expected more like 150 with some time on the DL.

      Giving him 2 years was ill-advised; no other team was offering that length and the Mets had other holes to fill.

      • February 2, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        Just looked up the predictions here at 360 for Colon before last season. Out of 13 voters, 4 had him at 180 IP or above (no one was over 195 IP); 5 voters had him below 160 IP. The consensus numbers was 166 IP — from a group that tends to come out somewhat optimistic about Mets projections.

        ZIPs had him at 147 IP.

        My point: The old, out-of-shape pitcher outperformed reasonable expectations.

  4. Patrick Albanesius
    February 2, 2015 at 12:30 am

    He and Torres could eat up a lot of innings in the back of that bullpen during blowouts, or if someone goes down for a week or two.

  5. TexasGusCC
    February 2, 2015 at 1:40 am

    These guys have a very tough job putting all the pieces in place and managing all the variables that come with keeping important people happy and the team on the right track.

    I started breaking down what the Mets outfield would be without Granderson and Cuddyer, and you know what? Too many ???? is what I found. If I were a GM, would I lean on a MDD/Mayberry platoon, or either Cuddy or Grandy? Admittedly, I’d take another shot with Grandy and I would sign Cuddy. If they don’t work out, turn to the kids in July or August.

    Likewise, I feel Colon was a good signing and even if all he did was help Familia be more confident, that’s enough for me as Familia will help for many years. But, while I wanted to unload Colon and Gee during the summer to not lose Verrett and block Montero, I have to give the decision makers a chance. It may work out.

    I wanted them to take a chance on Allen Craig as a major bounce back guy, but, there is such little flexibility in the roster that I don’t know how he can fit in.

  6. February 2, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I see him as a classic swingman. Spot starts for guys who need rest or are hurt and long relief.
    Best case scenario – he get’s 100ish decent innings in.

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