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Mets bullpen game vs. putting the starting pitching depth to the test

May 8, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Tommy Hunter (29) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Tommy Hunter (29) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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May 5, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Miguel Castro (50) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals, we saw the New York Mets win a bullpen game. The seven-inning affair worked out well and helped the team split the day.

The Mets then went into Saturday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a similar strategy. Tommy Hunter pitched the first two innings before the team turned to Joey Lucchesi, one of the guys they brought in this offseason for starting pitcher depth. Using an opener in Lucchesi’s games was an option the team considered in spring training. We saw it finally happen and the result was five no-hit innings. Better yet, the team went on to win the game.

As a non-fan of the opener and someone who doesn’t enjoy the mere idea of a bullpen game, I have to admit things have worked well thus far implementing this strategy. However, I’m still curious how things may have turned out if the Mets actually put their starting pitching depth to the test.

An argument for the Mets to continue with bullpen games

We, hopefully, won’t see these bullpen games for too long. May might have a few more of them considering Carlos Carrasco won’t be available until the very end at the absolute earliest. When the starters do begin to get healthy, the bullpen game should only be reserved for a doubleheader.

I have a tough time making a legitimate case for the bullpen game except for the fact that it has worked. The team’s bullpen has done well and to keep their heads above water, a parade of relievers may yield better results than putting players of Lucchesi’s ilk out on the mound every fifth day.

As much as we can praise the Mets starting pitching depth with names like Jordan Yamamoto, Jared Eickhoff, and Sean Reid-Foley, I’m not so sure any would be as good over the course of five or six innings as they would in three.

Putting them in as a starter or reliever won’t make too much of a difference. Personally, I would still prefer they start and the Mets can turn to another arm for the fourth inning.

The best, and possibly only argument anyone can make for a bullpen game, comes down to players firing from the mound at their best. Batters are seeing a new pitcher every time up. It keeps them off-balance.

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