Friday night Terry Collins used both Josh Edgin and Ramon Ramirez for 1.1 innings each. Saturday afternoon the Mets used only Edgin. New York used five relievers, including three different pitchers in the decisive eighth inning. Yet Ramirez was not one of them, the bullpen imploded and the Mets lost a toss-up game they really should have won.
Ramirez is in the dog house and if the Mets had better relievers on hand it would be easy to understand why. But when this year’s pen makes us long for the relievers from 2008, Collins simply cannot hold a grudge as long as he seemingly is with Ramirez. Has Ramirez been good this year? No, not particularly. Is Ramirez worth using in tight games? Yes, yes he is. And the sooner Collins accepts that, the better off the team will be.
Leverage Index (LI) is an attempt to describe how important a particular game or at-bat is. The Average LI is equal to 1.0 and a high leverage situation is 1.5 and above. About 10% of all game situations have an LI > 2 while 60% have an LI < 1. There are different times that we measure LI and one of those is gmLI, which is the index when the reliever enters the game. Let’s check the gmLI for the five Mets’ relievers Saturday.
These were all high leverage situations and Ramirez was nowhere to be found. For a nice contrast, here are the gmLI for Ramirez’ last 11 appearances, starting with May 15th:
0.01, 0.01, 0.20, 0.15, 0.63, 0.87, 0.20, 0.01, 0.67, 0.31, 0.63
Collins has lost all faith in Ramirez and simply refuses to use him in any situation where the game is on the line. The funny thing is that in those last 11 games, covering 13.2 IP, Ramirez has a 2.63 ERA with 4 BB and 13 Ks. So, while everyone and his brother frets about the Mets’ bullpen, Collins has buried the one guy who might actually be able to help.
It would have been nice to have used Ramirez in the 7th inning Saturday, used Rauch and Byrdak to get through the 8th and then brought in Parnell at the start of the 9th with no one on base. Instead, Rauch and Byrdak had to be used an inning earlier. Byrdak was brought back to start the next inning and failed, Beato, who had pitched all of 1.2 innings in the majors this year, was brought in during a super high-leverage situation and Parnell was brought in to get five outs. Is anyone surprised this didn’t work?
No one is pretending that Ramirez has been good this season. But he is a guy with a proven major league track record, one capable of getting out batters from both sides of the plate. From 2008-2011, Ramirez had a 2.77 ERA and a 1.217 WHIP over 279.1 IP. If Collins continued to use Rauch in pressure situations after he went 0-7 with a 6.75 ERA over 22 appearances (and he did) then there is no reason for Ramirez to be chained to the bench in tight games.
With Frank Francisco suffering a setback in his rehab, the Mets are going to have to continue patching a bullpen together to get to Parnell in the ninth inning. If Collins forgave Rauch for his crappy pitching, then he needs to do the same thing with Ramirez. However disappointing Ramirez’ start to 2012 has been, he’s still the best option currently on the team to retire guys in the eighth inning.