Heading into tonight’s pivotal Game 2 of their Wild Card Series with the Padres, the Mets have made an injury-related change to their roster. Newsday’s Tim Healey (Twitter link) reports that left-hander Joely Rodriguez has been removed from the 26-man roster due to a shoulder problem, and righty Taijuan Walker has been added as the replacement.
The specific nature of Rodriguez’s injury isn’t known, and he didn’t pitch in yesterday’s Game 1. Due to the roster removal, Rodriguez is now ineligible to pitch until the NLCS, should New York advance that deep into the postseason. In the bigger picture, Rodriguez is also a free agent after the season, so a serious shoulder issue could hamper his chances of landing a notable contract this winter.
It’s a tough blow for both Rodriguez and the Mets, as David Peterson is now the lone left-handed pitcher remaining on the Mets’ playoff roster. New York is on the brink of elimination after losing Game 1, and with the margin of error so slim, Rodriguez’s absence could loom large given the number of several (Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar, Trent Grisham) prominent left-handed hitters and switch-hitters in San Diego’s lineup.
The Mets have been thin on left-handed relief pitching all season, with Rodriguez serving as essentially the only reliable southpaw option. Control was an issue for Rodriguez, as his 12% walk rate helped balloon his ERA to 4.47 over 50 1/3 innings. A 3.54 SIERA paints a more positive view of Rodriguez’s performance, as other metrics as a 53.8% grounder rate, a solid 26.4% strikeout rate and excellent hard-hit ball numbers helped make him a valuable member of New York’s bullpen. Rodriguez also had virtually identical numbers against both left-handed and right-handed batters.
Walker and Carlos Carrasco were stalwart rotation members during the regular season, and the Mets opted to leave them off the roster in the three-game series rather than force either pitcher into a somewhat unfamiliar role. With elimination now looming, it’ll basically be all hands on deck for the pitching staff tonight and (the Mets hope) in a potential Game 3, as manager Buck Showalter will undoubtedly be open to all options in getting some critical outs.