The headline sounds like a broken record to Mets fans, and may be a bit kind. The small sample size rule is in play of course, since the season is less than a month old, but so far in 2013 the Mets bullpen has not been very good. The bullpen has a record of 2-2 with an ERA of 5.47 in 52.2 innings pitched. As of 4/21, that ERA is dead last in all of baseball. That’s bad, but let’s take a look at individual statistics.
While there have been some pretty good performances (namely Atchison, Lyon, and Parnell), that is an awful collection of numbers*. What really stands out is how many inherited runners this bullpen has allowed to score. In the table above “IR” stands for “Inherited Runners,” “IS” stands for “Inherited Score” (how many of those inherited runners scored), and “IS%” is simply the percentage of those runners allowed to score. As a collective, the Mets bullpen has allowed 42% of inherited runners to score. The league average is 36%. That’s just not going to work.
There are those who argue that the woes of the bullpen stem from the patchwork rotation’s inability to go deep into games. This is definitely a problem, as an overworked bullpen generally does not perform well. However, the Mets bullpen innings total of 52.2 innings lands them squarely in middle at tied for 14th in the majors. There are several teams’ bullpens with more innings pitched that have performed better.
The Mets took the old “see what sticks” approach to bullpen construction this year rather than throwing good money at bad relievers. You get what you pay for, they say. Not that putting a lot of money and years into relievers often pays off. The Mets proved that in 2012. The poor performance has already cost Greg Burke his job, and if things keep up he will not be the only casualty**.
*Note that Laffey pitched both in relief and as a starter and Jeremy Hefner (not included) pitched one inning of relief.
**Robert Carson was recently promoted from AAA Las Vegas. He replaced Laffey, who was designated for assignment.