Where will the innings come from in the 2013 Mets bullpen?

In the last three years, the Mets’ bullpen has thrown 1,413.2 innings, an average of 471+ IP per season. It seems like a lot but it’s actually below-average. The average National League team over that three-year span has tossed 484.1 IP per year.

The 2013 Mets bullpen has to make up the innings that Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez threw last year. That quartet combined for 199.1 IP or 43 percent of the total bullpen innings. Here’s a list of the people that the Mets have signed for 2013 that might see some bullpen action:

Byrdak, Greg Burke, Aaron Laffey and Scott Rice

You might notice that three of the four pitchers are lefties. Compounding the problem is that Byrdak is injured and will not be ready for Opening Day. Woops, I forgot another pitcher the Mets brought in – old friend Pedro Feliciano. The former Met has not thrown a pitch in the majors the past two seasons. And he’s a lefty, too.

Why the focus from me on lefties? It’s because they do not throw as many innings as righties, due to the LOOGYfication of every lefty reliever by the powers that be for the Mets, whether that decision comes from Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson. Last year, the most IP for a lefty reliever on the club was 30.2 IP and in 2011 it was 37.2 IP.

The last year before the Alderson-Collins duo took over, the Mets got 62.2 IP from Feliciano, 57.1 relief innings from Hisanori Takahashi and 53.1 from Raul Valdes.

The Mets currently have three relievers who seem like locks for Opening Day – Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin. Francisco and Parnell should be the late-inning guys for the club but Edgin’s role is not so defined.

My opinion is that Edgin should be groomed to be a dominating late inning reliever. My fear is that he will be utilized as the latest LOOGY project of the braintrust. In his last 22 games, Edgin threw 13.2 IP. Contrast that with his first 12 games, where he threw 12 IP. Oh and when he was pitching longer outings, Edgin had a 2.25 ERA and when they LOOGYfied him, his ERA shot up to 6.59.

Of course these are small samples and it’s easy to read too much into them. But given the history of the Alderson-Collins bullpen deployment, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they turn Edgin into the next Byrdak. Why would you want to develop the next Billy Wagner when you can cut his role in half and turn him into Byrdak?

With all of the lefties that the Mets will have vying for bullpen spots – it’s probably time that we mention southpaw Robert Carson is in the mix, too – it seems a strong possibility that the Mets will feature two LH relievers on their Opening Day roster. Collins has never been shy about voicing his preference to have two lefties in the pen.

We all have our preferences and it’s not like Collins is alone in this belief – there are plenty of fans who say the exact same thing. It’s just that if the Mets insist on carrying two lefty relievers, they either have to increase their workload or increase the workload of the other pitchers on the staff. Otherwise the math won’t work.

If they have two lefty relievers contributing a total of 80 IP, that leaves over 400 innings unaccounted for to have an NL-average pen. And with R.A. Dickey and his 232.2 IP in Toronto, it’s not like the starting rotation is likely to pick up a bunch of the slack.

Perhaps Jeurys Familia and Jeremy Hefner can soak up a lot of innings out of the pen. But no Mets reliever surpassed the 68.2 IP that Parnell threw last year. So how many can we actually predict that they will throw? Let’s do some calculations:

Francisco – 70 IP
Parnell – 70 IP
Hefner – 70 IP
Familia – 70 IP
Burke – 60 IP
Edgin – 40 IP
LHR – 40 IP

That’s 420 IP allowing more innings for four relievers than anyone threw out of the pen last year. The top four relievers combined for 236.1 IP in 2012, not 280. It’s also allowing 80 IP for the lefties, even though no lefty reliever has thrown 40 IP the past two years. And we’re still short 51 innings from last year’s below average relief innings total.

Obviously other relievers will contribute to the total. Last year Acosta spent considerable time in the minors yet still threw 47.1 IP.

It’s just an attempt to point out that innings have to come from somewhere and it doesn’t do any good to limit yourself to 80 IP out of two slots over the entire season. Either carry just one lefty reliever or do no treat your lefty relievers any different than your righty ones.

11 comments for “Where will the innings come from in the 2013 Mets bullpen?

  1. JoeG
    January 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

    If Frank Fran throws more then 50IP,WERE IN TROUBLE.

  2. Chris F
    January 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Another great analysis Brian. Kudos for making us all see better here through your hard work. The LOOGY and bull pen management issue as a whole brought by Ald-Coll is clearly trouble for next year. Listening to SA being interviewed by Bowden and Duquette the other day made clear that he is clearly still shopping for relief help. I somehow did not feel much better when SA said Warthen would also watch the second Brian Wilson session this week. Unless Frank Frank and Parnell really step up, its gonna be a long season with late inning crises. Even with more help, will the management still just be the heart of the problem? Probably so.

  3. Name
    January 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’m not sure why people are blaming Alderson for Terry’s LOOGY love. I understand Alderson plays a major part in assembling the roster, but how relievers are used pretty much falls squarely on the manager’s shoulders, as do all game time decisions.
    I’m sure plenty of other managers have 2 lefties in their bullpen and are able to manage them effectively. If we want to keep Terry(which i don’t but the majority seems to), you have to accept that Terry is a terrible, if not the worst, bullpen manager in the game.

  4. AJ
    January 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Well, maybe Scott Atchison will be able to help…

    A bit off-topic, but, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!

  5. steevy
    January 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Obviously whether it comes from him or not,Alderson approves of TC’s handling of the bullpen.Personally,I wanted the whole staff fired after last season.

    • Name
      January 29, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      How do you know he approves of his handling of the bullpen?

      • steevy
        January 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        He still has a job for one reason.

        • Name
          January 30, 2013 at 12:21 am

          So he has a job because Sandy “approves” of his bullpen usage?

          • steevy
            January 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm

            No,I phrased that wrong.One of the reasons Sandy must approve of his bullpen handling is that he still has a job.

            • Name
              January 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

              Just because you like someone’s overall body of work doesn’t mean you have to like/approve of every component of their work. The fact that he still has a job proves nothing. Plenty of people aren’t cut from teams because ownership doesn’t want to eat the contracts, and this applies to coaches too.

    • Chris F
      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      I agree, I would have fired the whole coaching staff but Tuff as well. I guess after this season we wont see this lot again.

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