There are many great benefits to the New York Mets approaching more games as “bullpen games” instead of using a traditional starter, especially because of the absence of a designated hitter in the National League.
Furthermore, is it such a foolish idea to think that teams in the National League would be better off without using traditional starting pitchers anymore at all? With the rare exception of unicorns like Shohei Ohtani and the hot-hitting Jacob deGrom, pitchers are traditionally an automatic out when they step to the plate to hit.
In return, traditional starting pitchers like Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker could become frequently used long relief pitchers, who could eat up two or three innings, until their first at-bat as hitters, every two or three games.
Unless the starting pitcher on the mound is as elite as Jacob deGrom, it is worth wondering whether a mediocre 4 or 5 ERA pitcher expected to go 5 or 6 innings into the game is worth the two or three outs they will produce each game as hitters at the plate.
By approaching games as “bullpen games” the Mets could maximize the utility of their bench mob pinch hitters in important RISP moments, even especially early in games.
This season the Mets bullpen ERA is second in the national league at 3.09. This is compared to the ERA of the backend of the Mets starting pitching rotation in David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi’s combined 5.74 ERA. Furthermore, Mets long relief pitchers Robert Gsellmen and Sean Reid-Foley have a combined 2.44 ERA.
By adopting this philosophy, Luis Rojas could more often precisely pick and choose inning by inning which bullpen pitcher he trusts the most in particular moments depending on the hitters due up for the opposing team.
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With the Mets sitting at first place in the National League East and riding a five-game winning streak, the Mets coaching staff has handled an injury-ridden roster, missing star pitchers like Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Carlos Carrasco seemingly to perfection, and a big credit can be given to the flexibility of the bullpen over the last two months.