New York Mets bullpen had an awesome regular season in 2006

The 2006 New York Mets aren’t known for their bullpen but the relief corps did have an awesome regular season.

The 2006 New York Mets are best remembered for their offense. Carlos Beltran hit 41 home runs, Carlos Delgado nearly matched him with 38, and David Wright had an awesome season of his own complete with 26 home runs and 116 RBI.

The bats deserve plenty of credit for the club’s success in 2006. Also worthy of praise is the bullpen.

Back in 2006, pitching was not a major strength of the team. Only Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel made more than 23 starts. They finished with ERAs of 3.82 and 4.97 respectively.

Because of injuries, the Mets had to hand a lot of starts to some forgettable names. Alay Soler made 8, Brian Bannister made 6, and Oliver Perez made 7. Completing the starting rotation was tough. Fortunately, the same wasn’t true for the bullpen.

The Mets had six pitchers go 50 or more innings and each one had an ERA of 3.62 or lower. It helped save some late aggravation, blown saves, and helped in more come-from-behind wins than usual.

The star of the bullpen was the closer, Billy Wagner. Wagner successfully saved 40 games while posting a 2.24 ERA. Although he was the golden reliever on the staff, the team had two other notable lefties in the bullpen.

Pedro Feliciano had a year to remember in 2006. He won 7 games as a reliever and had a bullpen-best 2.09 ERA. He was joined by another southpaw in relief, Darren Oliver. Unlike Feliciano who often specialized in facing lefties, Oliver often went more than an inning at a time. He ended the season with a 3.44 ERA but did it while pitching 81 innings over the course of just 45 appearances.

The other three most frequently seen relievers in 2006 were righties. The guy who saw the most innings was a name all Mets fans remember, Aaron Heilman. In 2006, he tossed 87 innings across 74 games. Although his 3.62 ERA was the highest of the six main relievers, he was a necessary component in their success.

Chad Bradford and Duaner Sanchez are the other two relievers worth mentioning on the 2006 relief staff. Bradford (4-2, 2.90 ERA) and Sanchez (5-1, 2.60 ERA) did a terrific job at keeping runs from scoring. Bradford did so by allowing just a single home run in his 62 innings. Sanchez, on the other hand, was helped out by a little luck. His 3.78 FIP is a whole run higher than his actual ERA.

Considering how well the bullpen performed in the 2006 regular season, it’s unfortunate to see them have a less-than-stellar postseason. Wagner took the loss in Game 2 of the NLCS and we all remember Heilman’s performance in Game 7.

Something I enjoy about looking back at past Mets seasons is how the relievers performed. Back then, I’m not sure many of us paid much attention to the numbers they were putting up. Frankly, without looking, I can’t tell you much about any bullpens from baseball past.

Throughout the history of the Mets, it does seem like the team has either favored starters or relievers with very few instances of both being good.

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In 2006, with a less than awesome starting rotation, the Mets leaned far heavier on the relief corps to keep them in the game and possibly even steal a victory.