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Mets Forgotten Seasons: Roberto Hernandez was an ageless beast in the 2005 bullpen

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: A New York Mets hat on the dugout stairs during the home opener against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: A New York Mets hat on the dugout stairs during the home opener against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
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What do you remember about the 2005 New York Mets? One year before things got really interesting, the club finished 83-79. Mike Piazza’s final year with the team and Carlos Beltran’s first ended up as one of those building block years.

Long lost in the shuffle of a rotation featuring two MLB legends and a starting lineup with four franchise GOATs at their position (Mike Piazza, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran), there was a beastly performance from a 40-year-old reliever named Roberto Hernandez.

Roberto Hernandez was spectacular for the 2005 Mets

Hernandez was apparently trying to make his way through the NL East in the latter days of his career. In 2003, he was with the Atlanta Braves. In 2004, he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. The longtime almost exclusive American League pitcher then found himself with the Mets in 2005 after signing with the club as a free agent.

Hernandez was coming off of several straight years of an ERA above 4.00. Coming into the 2005 season, he was fresh from a 4.76 ERA performance in Philadelphia.

Something changed for Hernandez in 2005. I don’t know what it was but he turned back the clock and gave the Mets much more than anyone expected.

In 69.2 innings across 67 appearances, Hernandez was 8-6 with a 2.58 ERA. It’s an awesome number of wins to somehow scrape together from the bullpen. The ERA is obviously much better and something Mets fans have become accustomed to not seeing in recent years.

Hernandez, a former closer for many years prior to joining Atlanta, even picked up four saves for the Mets.

The 2005 club’s bullpen was far from peak performance. Closer Braden Looper did save 28 games but did so with a 3.94 ERA. Juan Padilla, a guy probably even less remember from the bullpen in this season, pitched to a 1.49 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. Unfortunately, he became a victim of Tommy John Surgery and wouldn’t pitch in the big leagues in any season beyond 2005.

What made Hernandez such a big part of the bullpen this season was his availability and consistency. The club couldn’t seem to find enough innings from veterans. Mike DeJean, Manny Aybar, and Danny Graves all gave them 20+ frames. Each finished the season with an ERA of 5.75 or higher.

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Not Hernandez. Frequently used and seemingly always prepared to pitch in tight games, he more than survived his age 40 season.

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