The New York Mets have improved the bullpen, but have far too many questions before we can call it the best in baseball.
To succeed in the Big Apple, you need to have some big soundbites. At least this is how New York Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has approached the position.
The Mets may have the best relievers in baseball—which they probably don’t. However, the main reason why the best bullpen in MLB is somewhere other than Flushing is because there are holes left. There are questions about the ability of far too many of these guys to declare it the best around. One could even argue the Mets are in second place in their own city as far as the bullpen goes.
The biggest question marks are Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. Each has succeeded in the past, but put together career-worst campaigns in 2019. Will either bounce back in 2020? They’ll need to if the Mets want any shot at competing for the title of the best bullpen in baseball.
Betances isn’t off the hook either. If not for his years of dominance in the same city, I believe most members of the Flushing Faithful would question the deal. He’s looking to return from the multiple injuries he suffered in 2019.
Fortunately, it seems as if they shouldn’t affect his game.
There are other questions any team will deal with in their bullpen as well. Can Seth Lugo continue to pitch this fantastic? And will his elbow give up at some point?
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Another year older, how will Justin Wilson perform? And what about Robert Gsellman? He looked like a key piece for the future in the early part of 2018. Now I’m not so sure where he fits in moving forward.
Let’s also not forget Michael Wacha will probably hide in the bullpen until called upon for starts out of necessity. How will his game translate in a relief role?
There are plenty of questions and then there are some things that are just fact which holds this team back. The Mets don’t have a second proven lefty Wilson. Until they add one, we need to wonder where they will turn for that big out against Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, or Juan Soto.
On paper, the Mets have a terrific group of men capable of putting together a solid year in relief. This rarely translates directly into the actual game. I cannot tell you how many times I tried tracing something directly and ended up with something far more hideous than the original product. This is kind of similar to how baseball teams turn out.
Maybe the biggest factor of all for this bullpen is how it is used. First-year manager Carlos Beltran will need to know how to get the most out of each of these guys. Of all the responsibilities of a manager, navigating the bullpen is one of the toughest.
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The Mets project to have one of the best bullpens for the 2020 season. Van Wagenen isn’t out of line for sounding boastful about it. But until we see them get to work, they have a relief corps with plenty left to prove.