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Mets built a bullpen relying too heavily on health and perfection

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 11: Jeurys Familia #27 of the New York Mets pitches in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 11: Jeurys Familia #27 of the New York Mets pitches in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The problems with the New York Mets bullpen all began with its construction in the offseason. Unless everyone stayed healthy and had great years, they were doomed.

I think I’m nearing the end of how much I can say about the New York Mets bullpen this year. What more is there to declare? Mickey Callaway put it best when he said “We stunk.”

These two words perfectly describe how the Mets bullpen has performed throughout 2019. Other than Seth Lugo, nobody can be trusted.

I think back to what the Mets did this offseason with their bullpen. At the time, there was hope for a better relief corps.

We saw Lugo and Robert Gsellman return to the roles they found success with last year. Though Gsellman tailed off near season’s end, many believed by bolstering the bullpen and giving him a lesser role would benefit the young righty. They did this by bringing back yet another member of last year’s bullpen, Jeurys Familia.

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Match these three up with the best closer of 2018, Edwin Diaz, and suddenly things are looking much brighter. The Mets also added lefty Justin Wilson to the fray, giving them five potentially reliable relief arms they could turn to late.

Rounding out the Opening Day bullpen were Luis Avilan and Tim Peterson. For Avilan, it was a low-risk move with potential high reward. He pitched poorly for the Mets before joining Jed Lowrie on what feels like a permanent stay on the IL. Peterson did what he did last year and didn’t stick around for long.

Five good to great relievers and a pair of question marks could make for a solid bunch. It guarantees little, however. The Mets would need a lot to go right in order to excel with this crop of relief arms.

The real trouble begins when you look beyond these starting seven. There never was any depth. The Syracuse Mets didn’t have the veteran professional who could wet his toes in the minors and become a late-season call-up. Instead, the Mets rode with the typical crop of Four-A relievers they have for several seasons now.

The Mets bullpen went into the year sans backup plan. They needed the top five to repeat what they did last year. Even if Avilan and Peterson stunk, they could get by with those five coming into the game during wins.

Those plans haven’t worked because of injury and poor performance. Familia, Gsellman, and Wilson all underperformed this year to varying degrees. For Familia, it was an extreme. Even Diaz has not been as masterful as we needed him to be. Compared to other closers in baseball this year, he has pitched badly.

Many of these names mentioned have also spent time on the IL. Only Diaz and Gsellman have stayed healthy. This has meant more innings from Drew Gagnon and other pitchers nobody came into the year with much faith in.

Brodie Van Wagenen’s fatal error was overconfidence. Bullpens are as much a weapon as they are a deterrent to success. Trying to win without seven big league relievers and at least two capable ones in the minor leagues is a recipe for disaster.

To make matters worse, the Mets had all of the resources to make this happen. Rather than load up on depth at places they didn’t need much more at, they put faith the best-laid plans would not go astray. A wiser, more evenly constructed squad would have excelled far greater than this “no lead is safe” one built over the winter.

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We won’t know until the winter if there were any lessons learned. Until then, let’s cross our fingers the team can find another reliever from this latest crop of pitchers.

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