The Mets have built their back end of the bullpen for next year, but it holds two guys who have a habit of making save situations more intense
The Mets have their back end of the bullpen built for 2018, but it’s a unit that involves a lot more drama. AJ Ramos had his first save opportunity with his new team and converted in a 5-4 win over Texas. It wasn’t easy after the Rangers cut the deficit to one on a two-out home run by Robinson Chirinos.
We came to expect these pulsating ninth innings from Jeurys Familia last year. Though he led the league in saves with 51, Familia was also one of four pitchers who had at least 20 saves while walking at least 30 batters. He also allowed the second most hits of those in the top ten in saves throughout 2016.
Ramos hasn’t made things much easier. His walk rate is high (5.1 per nine innings this season). Only Corey Knebel averages more walks among all primary closers in the majors. Walks weren’t an issue on Tuesday and Ramos didn’t get far behind in counts.
The home run Ramos served up (his fifth allowed this year) was on an up and in fastball during the first pitch of the at-bat. That was after Ramos went exclusively off-speed and induced strikeouts against Carlos Gomez and Joey Gallo.
Still, no matter how it happens, Ramos has always made things adventurous on the mound. His WHIP has stayed steadily in the 1.3 range since he assumed the closer’s role in Miami. The difference is those runs are scoring more often. Ramos is three earned runs away from tying the second-highest total in a season in his six-year career.
Ramos can keep hitters off balance with a four-pitch mix. However, there are times where his command isn’t there. And there will be times like Tuesday night where opponents will sit on his fastball early in counts. Ramos has only thrown his fastball 39.1 percent of the time this season. The pitch he has gone to the most has been his slider (40.2 percent usage).
All these numbers are a big difference from what the Mets had with Addison Reed, who hardly allowed any extra base runners through walks.
Both Ramos and Familia know how to close the door more often than not, but Tuesday was another glimpse of the fact that there will be a lot more nail biting finishes to come.