New York Mets Hot Stove: Evaluating Relief Pitcher D.J. Carrasco

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New York Mets Hot Stove: Evaluating Relief Pitcher D.J. Carrasco
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The New York Mets made it abundantly clear that they were not going to be major contenders in the high-profile free agent sweepstakes this week in Florida, so the fact that they signed D.J. Carrasco shouldn't really surprise anybody.

Patience was the name of the game in Buena Vista for Sandy Alderson, and while not a spectacular move by any stretch of the imagination, the move to snag Carrasco looks to be pretty solid.

It is important to note the state of the bullpen as it stands right now. Besides Francisco Rodriguez, nobody has a defined role for 2011. Oliver Perez may or may not feature in long relief and there are big question marks looming over the likely effectiveness of Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell, Ryota Igarashi and Pat Misch.

If you then factor in spot starters such as Jenrry Mejia and Dillon Gee the pen, especially in the middle innings, looks weak and confusing even though Spring Training is sill three months away.

The Mets needed to populate the relief corps with arms, and I think Carrasco is a pretty decent find for two years.

He is a cheap and serviceable right-handed pitcher, and while he’s not going to win any awards, there’s no reason to think he won’t fit in nicely towards the back end of the bullpen.

At 33, he has six seasons of big league experience under his belt, most recently with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks, after spending his earlier years in the American League.

He has matured and developed a lot since first breaking through into the Major Leagues seven years ago, and it’s more important to look at his recent form rather than the complete portfolio of his work, which included a not-so-successful year as a starter.

At this stage in his career, he’s much more likely to give you 55 games and 75 innings with an ERA around the 3.75 mark. He is more efficient than his career 4.31 mark suggests, and pitching at Citi Field will only help, especially if he is used more sparingly against left-handers.

He has average stuff made more effective by the late movement he generates on his cutter, and as a result, he gets a better number of ground ball outs while minimizing the risk of a home run.

He will walk more batters than fans will like, but that’s often the case with a guy who works primarily off two types of fastballs.

Carrasco has two big assets to his game. The first is in the change of speed between his fastball and cutter, coupled with the mid-70s curve he will occasionally toss in there.

The second, and arguably the most useful, is the fact that he throws from at least three different arm slots, including sidearm late in the count.

Carrasco isn’t a big-money guy or a sexy household name, but he’s a veteran guy who looks like a low-risk option at this point. Throw him in at the start of the seventh inning and let him do his thing.

If Alderson can compliment this selection with a solid southpaw or two, the Mets will be right on track with where they need the bullpen to be. First impressions tell me this is a great start.

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