Missing the Mets long-man reliever: How sustainable is this?
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets chose not to have a long-man reliever on their Opening Day roster. It’s not such a great necessity. Until Monday’s 10-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, we wouldn’t have even seen someone in this role step onto the field.
The team ended up going to Tommy Hunter for two innings while he took a beating. Dennis Santana got a frame followed by Luis Guillorme for the final three outs. Hunter has been a multi-inning pitcher for the club, but two innings seems to be his maximum.
Lacking a long-man reliever won’t make or break a World Series chance. It is something that this particular Mets team will have a tough time sustaining given how they only have two relievers with minor league options on the ball club.
The Mets roster will need a long-man reliever sooner than later
Elieser Hernandez and just about everyone else on the 40-man roster not with the big league team is on the IL right now. Sam Coonrod, Jeff Brigham, Stephen Ridings, etc. are all hurt and unavailable. Joey Lucchesi and Jose Butto are available but having them available to start seems to be more essential at the moment.
Billy Eppler put himself up against the ropes with the bullpen decisions the team did make. Having only John Curtiss and Drew Smith with available options means one of them would need to get sent down for a fresh arm. The likelihood of needing one of those without a long-man in the bullpen is far greater. Unless Hunter or someone else can work efficiently and help them get through 3+ innings whenever a starter exits early, there’s some trouble brewing.
Showalter seems fully aware of this impending doom. He has held back from using Adam Ottavino unnecessarily. Even in Carlos Carrasco’s failed start on Monday, he was able to get the first 12 outs. The challenge was getting through the next 12 without tiring out the bullpen too soon.
What happens, though, when a starter leaves even earlier due to injury or ineffectiveness? Hunter, Dennis Santana, and Stephen Nogosek will have to piece together innings with help from the other available arms. There’s no telling whether or not everyone would even be available to help out.
Demoting Curtiss at the first sign of the Mets needing another guy seems inevitable at this point. Considering all of the other injuries they have, it might need to be someone not currently on the 40-man roster. The easiest way to open up a spot might be transferring someone over to the 60-day IL.
It’s manageable but it also seems like an unnecessary hoop to jump through and one that the Mets will need to do within the first month of the season. The Mets will be okay without a player like Trevor Williams on the roster. They could use a Robert Gsellman, though. How’s Sean Reid-Foley feeling?