Why the Mets bullpen is even more important this season
Bullpens are important. This year’s New York Mets relievers may have an even bigger impact on how the team performs.
One major difference from last year to this season is the starting rotation. Only Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco have returned. Justin Verlander slots in as the Jacob deGrom replacement. Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana will take over for Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker. Pick whichever one you want to replace the other.
The rotation could be better or worse than it was previously. One thing we can see already is how less durable these starting five could be.
The 2023 Mets bullpen will see a lot more action early in games this season
Scherzer and Verlander are the two we can count on to get through six innings on a regular basis. Carrasco is a little iffy. We’ve seen both the best and worst of him during his two years in New York.
It’s those other two that seem prepared to give far fewer innings. Bassitt gave the Mets 30 starts and 181.2 innings last year. In 32 starts, Quintana only got to 165.2 innings. Was it a case of having a better bullpen in Pittsburgh or St. Louis? You already know the answer for the Pirates. The Cardinals didn’t have a very good bullpen last year either.
Durability was already a concern with Senga given how he is familiar with the six-man rotation in Japan. Other injury concerns, enough where the team has put clauses into his contract, should have them treading lightly with Senga early on.
Quintana, Senga, and Carrasco should be five-inning starters more consistently than not. It’s not unusual in today’s baseball world. It is a starter too few that we’d like to see on the roster with the ability to go deeper into games. Two is okay. Three is a little much.
The solution to this is having fresh arms. Having someone who might be able to go more than an inning at a time out of the bullpen becomes important. Elieser Hernandez is the guy many expect to be the long-man. However, he’d probably fit in best if the starter exits before the fifth frame is over.
One possibility I’ve proposed but don’t expect to happen is to use Tylor Megill or David Peterson in planned relief roles. I’m not married to the idea. But pairing Megill behind the lefty Quintana and Peterson for a couple of innings when Senga starts could be beneficial. Joey Lucchesi is another candidate for a gig like this. We don’t even necessarily need to pair a righty with a lefty and vice versa.
The Mets bullpen will see action regularly in the sixth inning or earlier in 2023. It’s one of the reasons why the team has been adamant about having optional relievers to begin the season. Many arms that don’t make it to Opening Day will be only a phone call away. By late April, the team could be turning to a fresher arm. It’s going to be a regular occurrence throughout the season.