The Mets bullpen has seen its fair share of ups-and-downs this season. In fact, the ‘pen has seen cost-cutting trades (Francisco Rodriguez), multiple DFA’s (Pat Misch), pleasant surprises (Pedro Beato), pounding headaches (Bobby Parnell), milestone achievements (Jason Isringhausen), unexpected demotions (D.J. Carrasco) and even long-term depression (Taylor Buchholz). Overall, this motley crew of relievers has posted a combined 4.20 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.73 BB/9, 8.12 K/9, and 2.17 K/BB. Certainly not bad–and better than expected–but not good enough for a playoff team. Assuming Sandy Alderson will look to improve his crop of relievers in the off-season, here’s a look at what the New York Mets bullpen could look like in 2012.
Bobby Parnell: With Francisco Rodriguez out the picture, long-time “future closer” Bobby Parnell might finally live-out his label. Despite exhibiting brilliant control last season (2.1 BB/9), Parnell has sunk back to reality in 2011 (3.9 BB/9). Control has never been a strong suit, but on the other end of the spectrum, the 26 year-old never been so “dominant” (10.7 K/9). However, his inability to keep runners off base (9.5 Hits/9) doesn’t bode well for any closer, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sandy Alderson bring in a reliever with closing experience–just in case.
Pedro Beato: Beato has looked like a different, more inferior pitcher than he was earlier in the season, but then again, never giving-up a run is a little unsustainable. On the season, Beato has been decent, posting a 4.11 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1.43 K/BB, and 46.5 GB%. It’s obvious Beato needs some Triple-A seasoning, as suggested by his mediocre control (3.6 BB/9), substandard strikeout numbers (5.21 K/9), unsustainable .249 BABIP, and escalated 4.57 xFIP. Regardless of first-season peripherals, it still ain’t bad to have a hard-throwing 24 year-old hurler with four pitches.
D.J. Carrasco: After owning a 3.77 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 2.04 K/BB from 2008 to 2010, the Mets appeared to be on the winning end of the two-year, $2.4 million deal they signed Carrasco to in the off-season. However, year one into the deal, that hasn’t been the case. The 34 year-old veteran has posted a 4.79 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 1.60 K/BB. Unfortunately, Carrasco’s .291 BABIP and 4.58 xFIP support his regression, and his 12.5 HR/FB identifies a bad case of gopheritis (owned a 6.7%, 4.9%, and 7.1% in each of his last three seasons). To Carrasco’s credit, he’s been far better in the second half (4.24 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB) than he was in the first (5.18 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 1.09 K/BB), but there’s still a good chance 2012 will be worse than 2011.
Frank Francisco: Given the Mets interest in handing Parnell the closing gig, there is little chance they sign a Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, or Jonathan Papelbon type. But that doesn’t exclude them from signing Frank Francisco, who has closing experience, but is also comfortable in a setup role. Francisco might be best known for throwing a chair at a fan, but his 3.62 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 3.21 K/BB over the past four seasons is more relevant. While haters might point to Francisco’s 3.96 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 2.56 K/BB being his worst surface statistics he’s posted in the past four seasons, his elevated .321 BABIP and solid 3.49 xFIP suggest he still has the goods. Heck, even his fastball is a tick fast this season (average of 94.2 MPH) than it has been in both 2009 (93.5 MPH) and 2010 (93.4 MPH).
Joel Peralta: After surprising everyone in 2010 by hurling a 2.02 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 5.44 K/BB, Peralta followed-up his miraculous campaign with a still very good one in 2011. As his 3.43 xFIP in 2010 somewhat predicted, Peralta has come back to earth a bit in 2011–owning a still fab 3.34 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 2.94 K/BB. Those statistics are nothing to scough at, even though they’re obviously far less dominant than his 2010 showing. Regardless, just like his inability to land a multi-year deal after dazzling with the Washington Nationals, there’s a good chance Alderson could ink Peralta to an affordable one-year deal.
Jamey Wright: Wright has been around the block, in a variety of roles, with a plethora of teams. But over the past few seasons, he’s really found a niche out of the bullpen as an extreme groundballer. The 36 year-old owns the seventh best groundball rate (57%) in the American League this season, and rolled-out a 61.2% rate last season. Wright’s high 14.3 HR/GB would be helped by the spacious Citi Field, so the veteran could be a great fit in the back of the Mets bullpen.
Hideki Okajima: Every bullpen needs a lefty, so the much-maligned Okajima might fit the bill. After being one of the more reliable relievers in baseball from 2007 to 2009 (2.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 2.89 K/BB), in 2010, Okajima started to succumb to injuries and endured severe stamina issues. In 2010, Okajima posted an uncharacteristic 4.50 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 1.65 K/BB, and the reliever has been stuck in Triple-A for the majority of 2011 (despite posting a 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 4.88 K/BB). Okajima’s reign as a top reliever is most likely over, but his dominance versus lefties (career .218/.277/.323 line) suggests he might be a good specialist–and at a very low cost.
Tags: Ben Berkon Bobby Parnell Bullpen 2011 Bullpen 2012 D.J. Carrasco Frank Francisco Hideki Okajima Jamey Wright Joel Peralta Mets Mets Bullpen Mets Bullpen 2011 Mets Bullpen 2012 New York New York Mets Pedro Beato Rising Apple Sandy Alderson