Mets' closer plan has worked, but how long can it last?
By Tim Boyle
The beauty of adding David Robertson this offseason to the New York Mets roster is two-fold. He gave them an immediate replacement in the ninth inning when Edwin Diaz was hurt. When this wasn’t something any of us envisioned, it was likely he’d be one of Buck Showalter’s main choices late in the game whenever there was a lefty or two set to hit against the Mets.
Robertson’s extensive success versus left-handed hitters is something many knew coming into this year. Having him available to do everything from get a big out as early as the sixth inning to the final three in the ninth made him a huge offseason addition.
Due to Diaz’s injury, the plans have been redrawn. He’s now the top closer choice for the Mets with Adam Ottavino behind him on the depth chart. We’ve seen Showalter do something like this before. There were times in 2022 when Diaz would pitch the eighth and the ball would go to Ottavino in the ninth. This year it’s a little bit different. How sustainable is it?
The Mets closer plan needs tweaking but maybe not so much in the ninth
What the Mets lost was more than one of the most dangerous closers in the game. They also lost a deadly setup man to get the ball to him. It was almost acceptable for them to begin the year with Brooks Raley as their lone lefty because of Robertson’s success. Move Robertson up the depth chart into more of a closer, the absence of the second southpaw is glaring.
Much of what the Mets intended to do with their bullpen has failed for one reason or another. They’ve already DFA’d Dennis Santana which many of us saw coming from the moment they claimed him on waivers. Billy Eppler has been active on the wire to snag other similar pitchers who can help get them through the year. The biggest mistake was not signing a more guaranteed option in the offseason like Andrew Chafin or even lesser a veteran such as Matt Moore.
An unforeseen circumstance for the Mets is how many injured reliever pitchers they already have. It’s only the middle of April. We’re already losing count of how many players they’ve plucked off of the waiver wire just to have themselves options.
When we get closer to the trade deadline, we’ll know better whether or not the Mets need to go after a top closer or look for a lockdown reliever for the sixth, seventh, or maybe even eighth. Robertson and Ottavino have the track record of getting things done late in ball games. Strong starts to the 2023 season should have us feeling confident they can continue to find success even with the occasional hiccup along the way.
If there’s one concern to have with the Mets bullpen right now it’s how shallow it seems between the starters and these other two. With several Mets pitchers already proving six innings is about the most we’ll see from them on a regular basis, it’s even more essential to have depth in the bullpen. They lost a ton of it when Diaz got hurt and Robertson was pushed ahead to be more than a bridge to the ninth.
A closer-by-committee or whatever you want to label the Mets’ closer spot is sustainable because of the two veterans they have in it. What’s not feeling too great are the pitchers who need to get the ball to them.