Rafael Montero broke out in the minor leagues in 2012 and 2013 with impressive seasons. He was considered to be one of the strong starters the Mets had in their back pocket, as the organization had many prospects working their way to the major leagues. Since the Mets have called up those prospects, Montero has struggled to find a role with in the big league ball club. With Bartolo Colon returning, and the starting rotation set, what should the Mets do with Montero in 2015?
The offseason seems to be complete for the Mets, although many people think the team should add another reliever to the bullpen. This is where Montero could increase is value throughout the season. The past three closers for the Mets have been Bobby Parnell, Jennry Mejia, and Jeurys Familia. All three were starts turned relievers, and all experienced success. Just because these three pitchers panned out in the bullpen does not guarantee Montero success when he joins the bullpen. His fastball tops out around 94 MPH, but his location could provide him with an advantage over other relievers the Mets currently have.
The Mets seem to be planning for Montero to come out of the bullpen, as he pitched in relief during the Winter League this season. He pitched one inning, allowed one homerun and struck out two.
Last season, Montero only pitched in five games for the Mets, and started in one. In the single game he started, he pitched 5.2 innings, struck out six and allowed three runs. If Montero were to start, he would be towards the backend of the rotation, and he could provide quality starts.
Montero could also go back to Triple-A Las Vegas and start in games. If an injury were to occur, the Mets would not have to remove Sean Gilmartin or Logan Verrett from the bullpen, and could just call up Montero to pick up spot starts. By choosing to start him in the minors, he could also become more marketable if he has success in Triple-A. Relievers have been gaining more value, as we saw Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel get traded for decent returns. However, teams are searching for young, controllable arms, and Montero could be attractive to teams searching for these types of pitchers.
2016 will be an interesting year for Montero going forward. He was considered to be a piece to the rotation, and last season was spent going before the disabled list and rehab assignments. He was placed on the disabled list April 30th, and did not make it back the major leagues. Sandy Alderson said that Montero would not be helping the team in 2015, as his setback in August marked the end of his campaign.
As of now, the Mets seem to want Montero to start in the big league bullpen, and he will probably make spot starts throughout the year to give the starters a rest. Plus, we know that Zack Wheeler is coming back, and will be eased back into starting games, so it will be nice to have some length available in the bullpen. Hopefully Montero can stay healthy throughout the year, and will contribute at a high level.