If the New York Mets want to compete this year, they are going to need some major changes to the bullpen. As is, the relief corps is holding them back.
It’s as if we’ve gone back in time a season. The New York Mets, once again, have one the worst bullpens in MLB. It has blown a league-leading nine leads in 14 games.
The baseball universe was praising newly-hired General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen for seemingly bolstering the bullpen during the offseason. He added Justin Wilson, who was touted as a “sleeper” reliever, re-signed the beloved Jeurys Familia, and traded for Edwin Diaz, the best closer in baseball in 2018.
Now, the bullpen may very well be the reason why the Mets miss the playoffs. Is there any way they can legitimately compete with this bullpen?
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Mickey Callaway’s bullpen mismanagement has been a contributing factor to its failure: he is overworking the Mets’ top relievers.
Robert Gsellman has pitched 10.2 innings and thrown almost 200 pitches in the last 18 games. Jeurys Familia has made 10 pitching appearances in 19 days. Edwin Diaz has pitched nine times in 16 days.
This is all unacceptable but what makes it worse is that Callaway does not seem to understand that he is overworking his guys. After Diaz’s worst outing of the season on Wednesday, and maybe the worst outing of his career, Callaway said that he would still be available to pitch, if needed, the very next day (even though Diaz himself said that he would not be available).
The latest bullpen horrors were undeniably exacerbated by Seth Lugo’s absence due to injury. This played a part both in the bullpen’s overall performance as well as Callaway overworking the remaining top-tier relievers.
Lugo was arguably the Mets’ best reliever prior to landing on the Injured List with shoulder tendinitis last month, so his absence was expected to hurt the team. His return will definitely improve the situation, but the Mets still have many issues to resolve.
I think we have reached the point where we must blame Van Wagenen for the bullpen’s struggles, as well. Yes, he added some big names to the pen during the offseason. But he neglected to divert any attention to the most important part: depth.
This bullpen is not deep in the slightest, and that is an adequate defense for Callaway’s actions of only going to his top relievers day in and day out. Wilmer Font, Hector Santiago, Tyler Bashlor, now Drew Gagnon, and even Justin Wilson have been very bad. That is over half the bullpen. At this point in the season, deploying any one of these relievers almost guarantees a Mets loss.
Taking all this into consideration, my answer to the above question is no. I do not believe the Mets have a chance at competing with this bullpen strictly because of a lack of depth.
They will have to make moves at the trade deadline if they hope to accomplish anything and to be taken seriously.
A good place to start is the fire sale happening in Seattle. Cory Gearrin, 33, is sporting a 1.98 ERA in his last 15 games and a 1.50 ERA in his last seven. The Mariners have made it clear that they are hoping to get rid of their veterans, so the Mets should take advantage of the fact that Gearrin is having a great year and should seriously pursue him.
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Things are not looking great for this bullpen, but management needs to start somewhere and soon if they want to get it all together before it’s too late.