Mets need to stock the bullpen


The Mets will need more to the bullpen than just Blevins

The new trend in baseball is to have a deep bullpen to shorten the game. The Mets, who have lost Daniel Murphy and are likely about to lose Yoenis Cespedes, should look to make the bullpen a greater area of strength now that they may have less offensive punch.

The Royals have won a World Series with this formula and the Yankees recently acquired All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is now part of the three-headed monster in the Yankees bullpen joining Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Last year, the Mets’ bullpen had difficulty bridging the gap to the closer, Jeurys Familia. Familia had an extremely productive first year as the team’s closer and is looking to build off that season, and his usage should be monitored carefully this season.

Early in the 2015 campaign, Terry Collins was forced to use Familia for more than three-out saves. The 22-year-old closer handled the workload well, but hit a snag after the all-star break. As the trade deadline approached, the Mets acquired set up man Tyler Clippard, who solidified the eighth inning for some time in the regular season.

Addison Reed was picked up in August to assist with the seventh and eighth-inning assignments. However, along with Clippard, Reed was not overwhelmingly successful with the Mets. In the playoffs especially, no fan was comfortable watching Reed or Clippard take the mound.

Jerry Blevins was very successful in his brief time with the Mets last season. Impressed by his contribution in seven appearances, the Mets signed him to a contract worth $4 million. If healthy, Blevins will provide a solid left handed reliever in the bullpen.

To further strengthen the bullpen and the left handed arms in the bullpen, the Mets should sign Antonio Bastardo to a two year contract for $11 million. Bastardo would solidify the eighth inning position and contribute to any difficult left handed hitters late in the game.

According to FanGraphs, Bastardo had a WAR of 0.6 with the Pirates in 2015 and projects to have a WAR of 0.2 in 2016. The expanded role that Bastardo would play with the Mets would bring his overall statistical value to rise. With a projected 10.03 K’s per 9 innings, Bastardo could provide a big out against lefties in the division like Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Daniel Murphy.

The middle relief will be put on pitchers like Hansel Robles, after an impressive rookie season. At times Robles was un-hittable. Like many relief pitchers and rookies, Robles struggled at times. Despite his struggles, Robles finished the season with a 3.67 ERA, 12 holds and striking out 9.62 batters per 9 innings. Robles will have the season to continue to grow and learn from veterans like Bastardo, while waiting in the wings for the set-up role.

FanGraphs projects Robles to pitch to a 3.34 ERA with a WAR of 0.4 in 55 innings pitched. Solid numbers for a secondary relief role behind the best pitching staff in the league.

With Reed set to return to the club in 2016, the seventh inning will have his name penciled into the depth chart. It would be beneficial to look at bringing back Tyler Clippard to share the seventh inning duties since he brings a different element to the bullpen than the other hard throwers, with his changeup complementing a pitcher like Reed and Robles. Clippard would also bring experience and the ability to fill in as the closer or eighth inning man. Blevins and Reed would potentially be gone after this season, which would help afford the additions of Clippard and Bastardo on multi-year contracts.

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Despite having an off year, Clippard was able to log 71 innings and capture 19 saves. Although Clippard will not be the closer, he will have plenty of opportunities to face lefties and righties, giving the bullpen flexibility on days that other arms need rest.

Lastly, the long relief role will likely be filled by Sean Gilmartin. Gilmartin had a strong season, highlighted by some long appearances in extra-inning games. Gilmartin was said to be fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation before the re-signing of Bartolo Colon. Another option would be Carlos Torres, who has been solid in the past, but may not be stretched out enough for long relief.

Next: Mets not involved as favorites emerge for Cespedes

As the winter has rolled on, Mets ownership has shown the unwillingness to spend big. Despite the money saved from Michael Cuddyer retiring, the Mets are reportedly not interested in Yoenis Cespedes. A potentially weaker offense should give them even more motivation to shore up the bullpen while helping to support their main strength — starting pitching.