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O'Flaherty struggling as Mets' lefty specialist

PHILADELPHIA -- First it was Josh Edgin, the left-handed reliever who underwent Tommy John surgery in March, followed by Jack Leathersich in July. In between, the Mets traded for Jerry Blevins, who fractured (and later re-fractured) his throwing arm and is likely out for the season. Left-handers Alex Torres and Sean Gilmartin never profiled as one-out specialists, despite their use in that role at times.

Now it's August and the one lefty specialist on New York's roster, Eric O'Flaherty, is struggling on a near-nightly basis. O'Flaherty faced five batters in the Mets' 9-4 win over the Phillies on Wednesday, retired two of them and allowed three runs. His ERA since coming to the Mets in an early-August waiver deal is 15.88; lefties are hitting .444 off him with a walk during that span.

"When he needs to make [a pitch], he leaves it up," manager Terry Collins said. "He's got to make some consistent pitches."

With six weeks left in the season, O'Flaherty still has ample time to prove his readiness for the playoff roster. But the Mets, despite their struggles to find a reliable lefty specialist this season, do have other internal options. Dario Alvarez, who was briefly with the team last weekend, owns a 0.96 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas and will be back up in September. Former first-round Draft pick Josh Smoker has dazzled scouts at Double-A Binghamton, though he appears to be behind Alvarez on the depth chart.

Then there is No. 1 prospect Steven Matz, due back from the disabled list as soon as next week. If the Mets opt not to carry Matz in their playoff rotation, he has the stuff to serve as a devastating lefty reliever.

Those decisions will come in time. But Collins does believe his players -- particularly in the bullpen, where so much is unsettled -- will eventually view the season's final month as open competition for October.

"I don't think there's any doubt," the manager said. "I don't know if they talk about it or not, but right now, they just like what they're doing. They're enjoying winning."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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