I don’t envy the decision-makers in baseball, particularly when it comes to assembling and evaluating bullpens.
He’s been terrific for the Mets since getting called up in mid-June. In nine appearances, encompassing 13 2/3 innings, Torres has been scored upon exactly once. His ERA of 0.66 goes along with two walks and 12 strikeouts.
His batting average on balls in play of .195, and record of stranding 100 percent of his inherited runners, suggests some regression. But regression from a 0.66 ERA leaves plenty of room to still be effective. His FIP is 2.50, which would be just lovely from a reliever.
Really, my bigger concern is the size of the sample, and of how little has changed in things like his repertoire or velocity to explain why, at age 30, Carlos Torres is suddenly a relief ace.
Remember, Torres pitched out of the bullpen last season, too. And in 53 innings for the Rockies, his walk rate was 4.4 per nine. His walk rate with the Mets this season in 1.3 per nine. Even in Las Vegas, where he’d been starting, it was 2.4 per nine.
So there’s nothing particularly notable about Torres switching roles, just that this season, he’s walking far fewer people than ever before. He’s throwing roughly the same pitches, at the same velocity, in the same proportions.
If Torres truly has figured out how to command his pitches at age 30, this is a significant development.
But it is probably worth noting that over a similar time span after the Rockies called him up in July 2012, Torres looked like a key part of their bullpen future, too. From July 4-29, he pitched 12 scoreless innings, walking four and striking out 12. He allowed a single hit in those 12 innings. And that hit came on July 29, in an outing that made him look superhuman, with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 shutout frames.
He then went out and pitched to a 7.20 ERA over the final two months, walking 17 and striking out 26 in 35 innings.
In the abstract, the Mets have the luxury of waiting until the end of the season to make decisions about Torres and 2014. But in a world where Bobby Parnell can fetch a significant return in trade, and the Mets badly need position players, how well Torres can step in is something the Mets would be better off knowing in weeks, not months, ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Let’s just wait on proclaiming Carlos Torres a bullpen mainstay. But don’t envy Mets decision-makers. They don’t have the luxury of waiting much longer.