New York Mets relievers are talking a big game this winter. The law of averages and the back of their baseball cards could prove their high praise true.
Heading into a new year, there’s plenty of hype about where this team is with its crop of relievers. Although they’ve made minimal upgrades, the law of averages and the back of baseball cards suggests the bullpen could be a strength, not a weakness.
Returning for 2020, we find Edwin Diaz as the expected closer and Jeurys Familia as one of his possible setup men. These two are the ones we’re questioning plenty after each put together career-worst campaigns in 2019.
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Diaz was anything but effective in the ninth inning. Only Familia’s similar woes in the earlier frames made him look competent on the mound.
As the optimists believe, Diaz cannot possibly be this bad again. He was one of the best relievers in the game back in 2018 as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Even an average year from him would look much more favorable than the 5.59 ERA campaign he put together in year one as a member of the Amazins.
And then there’s Familia. Good old, familiar to Flushing Familia.
There isn’t nearly as much belief in Familia returning to his best form this year despite still owning a lifetime ERA of 3.16. He’s a few years older than Diaz but doesn’t really have any other horrific season other than 2019 on his resume.
Back in 2017 when Familia struggled on the mound, injuries were part of the blame. Not to mention, just about every pitcher on the roster put together a horrifying campaign.
These two are important for the 2020 Mets, but hardly the end of the relievers we’ll see. Lugo is back and so is another guy who played well in 2019, Justin Wilson. This righty/lefty duo managed to secure the late innings last year when it was clear Diaz had lost his confidence. If there is anyone in the bullpen few are doubting, it’s this pair.
The big splash of the offseason brought Dellin Betances across boroughs. On a one-year deal, he’ll look to prove he’s healthy again and as effective as ever. The only worry is the fact that he barely pitched at all in 2019. With any luck, this actually gives the team a fresher version of the big man.
Rounding out the bullpen, we should find Brad Brach, Robert Gsellman and Michael Wacha. Wacha still has an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot, but I think his contract situation will allow Steven Matz the victory if all things are equal or near to it.
Brach is a guy I could see having an extremely effective year with the Mets. In what may end up as a lesser role than he could handle, the Mets could see the veteran righty return to his former form to some degree.
As for Gsellman, he’s one of those guys whose average year still needs to improve. He’s the last man in the bullpen, though. The back of his baseball card isn’t nearly as impressive as these other men. Still, he’s a more than competent big league arm as a potential innings eater in blowouts or extra-inning affairs.
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This winter has included plenty of hype surrounding the Mets bullpen. If they all show up and reach their personal means, the hype will be reached.