We have another intriguing question for our writers here at MMN. We posed the following question:
Here’s what some of our guys had to say:
This one’s easy for me and even though I’m one of the biggest Leathersich fans there is, I’d have to take Jeff Walters over him right now. Leathersich still needs to work on his command before he can become a force in a major league bullpen. Meanwhile, Walters has the three things you want from a shutdown reliever; velocity, control, and swagger. This kid has nerves of steel and proved his mettle in Binghamton this year, smashing their all-time saves record while leading the EL in that department. It’s tough for batters to get around on him because he has such a deceptive delivery and he comes right after you. It’s probably why he’s only allowed three home runs in the last two years. That’s a pretty remarkable feat. Verdict: Walters
Jeff Walters had a breakout season for the B-Mets in Binghamton. Used exclusively in the closer’s role, Walters was lights out setting single season and career save marks for Binghamton. His 38 saves also led the Eastern League and was the second highest all-time saves total in the EL. It’s not just the numbers, but Walter’s stuff and his attitude on the mound that impressed. Walters has a fastball touching 96 miles per hour and a dirty breaking pitch. He’s also a bit older having finished a four year stay in college. You would think all that might add up to an accelerated path to the majors.
Leathersich, too, was brilliant during his summer time in Binghamton. 16.9 SO/9 innings, a 1.53 ERA and a reduction in his base-on-balls percentage earned him a call up to Las Vegas. That elevation was daunting for Leathersich. The young left-hander maintained a high strikeout rate (14.6/9), but he walked one batter per inning and his ERA ballooned to a ridiculous 7.76.
It is probably more than previous performance alone that will answer this question. The health of Bobby Parnell, the development of Vic Black, will LaTroy Hawkins be re-signed, what is the status of veteran lefties like Perpetual Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak and the rehabbing Scott Rice? The resolution of those mysteries will probably make the difference.
With Parnell, Black, and Hawkins all eighth and closer right- handed options and more questions centered around the left-handed status of the Met bullpen with Leathersich a possible lefty to lefty one batter option I’ll make a weak prediction Leathersich gets the first look. Verdict: Leathersich
I’m going with Jack Leathersich over Jeff Walters. The first thing I think of when looking at relievers is strikeouts. I want a guy to come in and be lights out. Leathersich had 42 more K’s than Walters did in 2013. Leathersich also has 76 more over the course of his career with one less season under his belt than Walters. I’m not too worried about Leathersich’s stats at Las Vegas. If you look at the last time he was promoted midseason, 2012, his stats ballooned while adjusting to another level. Verdict: Leathersich
This is definitely the most difficult one posed to date — so let me try to break it down. Walters has the better control and composure on the mound, while Leathersich has the better natural stuff and is left-handed. Both men have deceptive deliveries and solid mechanics, so I guess it boils down to a matter of preference. Walters might be the better pitcher right now, but Leathersich has the higher ceiling and boasts an outstanding career K/9 of 15.2. Even if he can’t cut down on the walks completely, he might be able to dominate hitters for years to come. Verdict: Leathersich
There is no doubt for me that Leathersich’s ability is greater out of these two. However, when I think of a successful reliever, I think of a couple things — one is to make hitters swing and miss, and the other is to throw the ball over the plate. It drives a manager nuts when they go to the bullpen in a tight spot, and they watch him walk the first batter they face. With the lack of control Leathersich had in Las Vegas and the wonderful year Walters put together, I think Walters has the upper hand with regard to their immediate big league future. Jack won’t be far behind Jeff, but he needs to walk less than one hitter per inning in Vegas before he gets the call. Verdict: Walters
With five writers weighing in, Jack Leathersich wins a tight battle in this week’s face-off, taking three out of the five possible votes. Who do you think will make it to the big league bullpen first? Sound off in the comment section below.
(Leathersich photo courtesy of Gordon Donovan)