Bullpen Is Biggest Off-Season Concern For New York Mets

By Mitch Petanick

After a disappointing 2012 season, the New York Mets will have a number of areas to address before the 2013 season kicks off next spring. Some argue that the outfield is the Mets biggest concern. And yes, they need a catcher. I’m here to tell you that while the Mets do have to address those areas, they are not the most pressing issues facing the team right now. The biggest concern for the Mets this off-season is the bullpen.

Sep 28, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Bobby Parnell (39) pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Mets defeated the Braves 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

Think about it. How many games were lost as a direct result from the lack of production from the outfield or catcher position? You really can’t put a value on that. But how many games were lost as a direct result of the bullpen blowing leads late in games? Now there is something that we can directly correlate to the win-loss column.

There is absolutely no confidence that the Mets bullpen can close out a game. It seems that no lead is a safe lead. A team, and it’s fans, should feel confident that when a starting pitcher leaves the game with a lead in the seventh inning, that they are going to be the team that comes out on top. With the Mets, the feeling that you get is the complete opposite.

The Mets bullpen boasted the highest ERA in the major leagues in 2012 – a robust 4.69. When the game was turned over to the bullpen, the Mets were 16-27. 27 losses?!?! That stat is good for fourth worst in the major leagues. There are times when the stats don’t give an actual depiction about how good or bad the situation really is, but in the Mets case, it’s even worse.

How can they be so bad? The pitchers have good stuff. They throw hard, and have good breaking pitches. So what’s the problem? Is it the mental makeup? Have they lost confidence in themselves? It could be a combination of the last two questions. Pitching out of the bullpen is a different animal, and maybe the Mets bullpen pitchers just don’t have what it takes, from a mental aspect, to pitch out of the bullpen in New York.

Whatever the problem is, steps have to be taken to rectify the issues with the New York Mets bullpen before 2013. The Mets lineup is not the type of lineup that can come back, late in a game, after the bullpen has surrendered a lead. They cannot afford to give games away. Who knows, with a strong bullpen, maybe the Mets will be able to return to the playoffs when it is all said and done in 2013. It didn’t seem like it was too crazy of a notion prior to the All-Star break in 2012.