When the New York Mets signed starting pitcher Carlos Torres in spring training, they didn't expect much. After pitching for the Chicago White Sox in 2009 and 2010, Torres spent the 2011 campaign in Japan before spending time with the San Francisco Giants last season. The Mets added Torres on a minor league deal and invited him to spring training, presuming he could be an extra arm for their farm system. Torres stunned them by pitching brilliantly in spring training, pushing incumbents Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner for rotation spots.
Torres was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to begin the 2013 campaign, and he continued to pitch well in the hitter's paradise that is the Pacific Coast League. Torres went 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 12 starts for the Las Vegas 51's, and he forced the Mets' hands with his strong performance. Torres' contract contained an opt-out clause, and he was drawing interest from several other teams. Torres could have become a free agent if he was not promoted to the major leagues, so the Mets added him to their roster in June.
Torres initially joined the Mets' bullpen and pitched well before making a spot start for Matt Harvey in Pittsburgh before the All Star Break. Torres did well in that outing, earning himself a few more starts before shifting back into a bullpen role following the addition of Jenrry Mejia to the rotation. Torres has been used all over the place in the bullpen, ranging from the setup man to long man to middle relief. Torres earned a role in the rotation once again once Matt Harvey was lost for the season to injury, and he should remain there for the remainder of 2013.
Torres has done well for the Mets, going 3-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 66.1 innings for the Mets. Torres has displayed good control, walking only 10 batters in those 66.1 innings and he has picked up 50 strikeouts. Torres' success could make him a handy man to have around for the Mets next season. The Mets likely don't plan on using him in the rotation out of spring training, but Torres could earn a spot out of spring training. Torres could easily fill a similar niche that Jeremy Hefner filled for the Mets in 2012, the role of "swingman".
Sandy Alderson has indicated he likes to have a swingman in the pen, and by swingman Alderson means a reliever who can pitch out of the pen but fill in the rotation if needed. Hefner was slated to be that guy for the Mets this season before Johan Santana's injury forced him to the rotation, so Torres ended up with the role of swingman. Another previous swingman, Miguel Batista, had success in the role in 2011. The swingman is an important role for this bullpen given the Mets' need for an extra arm who can give them a spot start once in a while, particularly given that the Mets will likely nurse several young pitchers through innings limits next season.
Torres' adaptability makes him a valuable guy going forward for the Mets, particularly with Hefner on the shelf for the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. While it remains to be seen if Torres can maintain his 2013 form next season, the Mets are hoping that they can catch lightning in a bottle with Torres. Torres should also be a relatively cheap pitcher for 2014, allowing Alderson to spend his free agent dollars to upgrade his offense.
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