Mets’ bullpen underwhelming so far

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.

Pitcher IP G W L ERA WHIP IR IS IS% B/9 S/9
Scott Atchison 8.0 8 0 0 4.50 1.125 4 2 50% 3.4 3.4
Greg Burke 7.1 7 0 1 7.36 1.773 2 0 0% 3.7 8.6
Josh Edgin 8.0 9 0 1 9.00 1.625 3 1 33% 4.5 9.0
Jeurys Familia 0.2 2 0 0 27.00 7.500 1 1 100% 27.0 0.0
LaTroy Hawkins 6.1 8 0 0 5.68 1.737 5 3 60% 0.0 7.1
Aaron Laffey 10.0 4 0 0 7.20 2.100 0 0 N/A 4.5 8.1
Brandon Lyon 6.0 7 1 0 1.50 0.500 2 0 0% 0.0 9.0
Bobby Parnell 5.2 6 0 0 1.59 0.529 3 2 67% 0.0 11.1
Scott Rice 8.0 9 1 0 1.13 1.250 6 2 33% 5.6 5.6

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.

30 comments for “Mets’ bullpen underwhelming so far

  1. April 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    It’s simple. You have about 10-12 million dollars to invest. Instead of trying to nickle and dime for aging starters starters like Marcum, put the money into the bullpen and the Mets can win close games. If the pen holds 4-5 games instead of they’re usual crap shoot that’s the difference between making the playoffs or finishing fourth in the division. What in God’s name is Sandy doing! Every bleeping year! It’s the same BS! Isn’t he embarrassed by what he sees? It’s come to the point where we have such low expectations that we allow this inept attitude to permeate the team. The stench is overwhelming. Fix it!

    • April 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      You mean like before the 2012 season, when Alderson sunk all of his available money in the bullpen? That was a disaster.

    • April 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      As Brian said, throwing money at relievers doesn’t necessarily lead to a good bullpen. The bullpen is really the most unpredictable piece of a baseball team year in and year out. Sometimes you get lucky, other times you swing and miss.

  2. April 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I’m in agreement with Brian and Rob. Sometimes you’ll find a guy out of nowhere like Fernando Rodney and othertimes you end up with Frank Francisco.

  3. Name
    April 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Stats can be highly misleading and in this case they are.

    Before going into Colorado the Mets bullpen had pitched 34.2 innings giving up only 11 runs. That’s a 2.85 ERA and if my memory serves me correctly was about the top 3rd in baseball.

    In Colorado, the Mets bullpen gave up 17 runs in 11 innings, which is an ERA of 13.91.

    So basically our ERA is being skewed by that series in Colorado, which no doubt supports a good offense but you had to think that the players were affected by the bitter cold. Not to mention the fact that 3 of our SP have been struggling recently which has probably led to some overusage which hopefully won’t hurt us later on. If the SP can get its act together, I think the bullpen will be fine going forward, if not above average.

  4. April 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

    True but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the right approach. It only tells you that Sandy given the luxury of having money to spend doesn’t have the ability to find the right players. I always liked Mike Adams and he was available. Just an example.
    aS FOR name. Don’t you think the cold weather affected the Rockies bullpen? Professional athletes don’t need your help for excuses that they were awful. Let’s wait and see if Parnell is able to close out games if the Mets are in a wild card race. Then we’ll see if we have our closer of the future.

    • April 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

      But Adams signed a two-year, $12 million deal. There’s no way Alderson was going to sink that much money into a non-closer. Shoot, that’s how much he spent on a closer the previous off-season.

  5. Metsense
    April 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

    How many “true”" closers are there in baseball? If you have a contending team you might pony up the 8M to get one but remember that the Mets are paying for the 10th highest paid at 6.5M in Fransisco. Parnell, Lyon and Atchison should be enough IF the backend of the starting rotation can get the Mets deeper into games. Too small a sample size to react any more than Sandy has already reacted. If the Mets want to solve the ” bullpen” problem then they need to address the backend of the rotation problem first. They have enough secondary middle relievers, young and old, to swap out and find a workable combination. I will close by stating that the bullpen is mismanaged by TC and Warthan, but that is a whole other post.

  6. April 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

    What would you suggest? We need a number 5 starter no matter what. Let’s forget Marcum since he was only going to be signed for one season. Do you bring up Wheeler at the end of April or May? Since the organization is not looking to spend money wouldn’t that be the most economical solution? We know the Santana injury blew up the starting rotation. So why not start now with an eye towards 2014 for the future of the starting rotation and use 2013 for the kids to gain valuable experience and add some depth to the starting rotation.

    • RADeva43
      April 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Not to mention trading Dickey…just imagine a starting rotation of 1) a healthy Santana 2) 2012 caliber Dickey 3) the current Harvey 4) the current Niese 5) halfway decent Gee. Who needs a bullpen with a lineup like that…wait what’s that sound? Darn it’s the alarm clock!

  7. April 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    To Metsense. As I am not a Warthan fan who would you like to see as the pitching coach in 2014? New manager too! Not a Collins fan either.

    • Metsense
      April 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      I think someone in the Met system should get the first consideration for both pitching coach and manager because Alderson has promised a “Met philosophy” in the right way of doing things, from rookie ball to the majors. If Sandy truly believes in his system then he should promote his best soldiers.
      As for promoting Wheeler, I ask why pay him to learn on the Mets dime? He needs to hone his skills and be very good at AAA first. If they want to promote a starter move McHugh up and Montero to AAA as they both have earned the promotion.

  8. April 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

    But it’s the value of what he’s getting for 12 million dollars. My point is why bother looking to find a cheap closer and get nothing in return? Only wishful thinking and cross your fingers and hope that your frugal ways don’t come back to bite you in the butt. So what’s the difference if our closer is injured and will only pitch the equivalent of one season? That’s 12 million for 1 season for a “B” closer no longer in his prime. As much as I don’t believe in Parnell why couldn’t Sandy put the 12 million towards the pitcher who is going to bridge the gap between starter and closer. What difference does it make who gets the 6 million as long as the team wins the game.

    • April 22, 2013 at 11:23 am

      That’s all well and good but when Alderson signed Francisco, the plan was for him to pitch two years, not one. Plans don’t always work out the way you want them to but I don’t see how you sign a guy who just turned 32 to a two-year contract and expect him to only pitch one year.

      How much money do you think Alderson had available to spend this year? My guess is he had less than $12 million to fill multiple spots. Here’s where I figured he spent money this year:

      Marcum – $4 million plus incentives
      Buck – $1 million net over what Dickey was to receive
      Hawkins, Lyons, Atchison – $1 million combined over minimum wage guys
      Byrd – $200 K above minimum wage guy

      Maybe I’m missing someone but I doubt he had more than $10 million to spend

      I know, I know – Alderson always says he has money to spend and simply chooses not to spend it. At some point we have to say that actions speak louder than words. If you haven’t reached that point – that’s okay but I don’t think you can blame others who have.

      There’s nothing wrong with criticizing the direction that the GM took. But I think in order to be a fair criticism — you cannot spend more money than he did. In the above calculations, I have Alderson spending $6.2 million on six spots. If you want to allocate that $6.2 million in different ways, that’s great. But I don’t think you can just say spend more money.

      Also, if Adams gets a 2/$12 deal – the Mets would have to pay *more* than that to get him.

  9. April 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    That’s because we need to change the atmosphere here. Every GM makes good and bad decisions. Mets payroll for the year is 81 million with Bay deferring 12 million. So what’e the excuse for next year? Limited amount of free agents? Sandy is creating the atmosphere here that the team is going to nickle and dime you to death(not necessarily his fault). Who would want to come here with that type of negotiating in mind? Next year the new MLB television contracts kick in with about each team receiving 50 million as opposed to the 25 million they got under the old contracts. Just the mentality of you thinking that players will demand more to come to play for the Mets says that this team is not a destination for ANY QUALITY FREE AGENTS. And for that we have the Wilpons to thank.

    • April 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Actually, it appeared as though the Mets/Alderson were willing to pay Bourn what he was asking for (well, close to it) but the only hangup was the draft pick. You’re free to believe if that was actually the case or not, though. Point is there have been signs that this team is ready to take the next step in supplementing homegrown talent with higher-end free agents. Of course, seeing is believing, and this off-season will be very telling.

  10. April 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    The team will never be a championship team without more established veterans surrounding David Wright The Angels starting outfield has 3 center fielders and the Mets have A PATCH WORK OF AAA players. As for seeing is believing what happened this pass summer? If the Mets had been truly interested in Bourn they could of locked him up early and not have to forfeit their draft pick. They’re ploy of waiting out the market came back to bite them in the …God! Cleveland out bid the Mets! When was the last time a free agent took that path? What happened to Sandy stating that the payroll would be slightly higher this season? 81 million doesn’t sound like an increase to me. I refuse to drink the kool-aid Sandy is offering to Mets fans. It’s just a bunch of BS, We are the NEW YORK METS! Not the Kansas City mets or the Miami mets. This hodgepodge of leftovers and rejestc and reclamation projects is an EMBARRASSMENT to New York Mets fans and to Major League Baseball. Enough already.

    • Name
      April 24, 2013 at 12:42 am

      I know you’re frustrated and letting out you’re frustration, but pretty much everything you said there is incorrect factually.

  11. April 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

    It may be factually incorrect. But the perception the Mets management is giving is one of being economically frugal. Yes its frustrating that the current ownership cannot provide the fan base with a team to match the payroll that is expected from the number market in America. Are we not to have certain expectations? Is that too much to ask for? When teams like the Indians and the Twins have a comparable payroll to the Mets it’s embarassing. What do you say when attendance at the end of the year is less than 2 million? Where do the Mets go from here? Do you think if they bring up Wheeler that things will get better? With the bull pen we have? They only gave up 5 runs in 4 innings against L.A.. As for payroll check Cot’s Baseball contracts to see the actual numbers of each MLB team for 2013. The Bourn issue is a dead issue I should not of bothered to bring it up. So going forward where is this team headed for? While they will plenty of money to spend on free agents the market is going to be pretty thin in 2014.

    • Name
      April 24, 2013 at 2:27 am

      Each fan has different expectations and things that they consider important. To most fans, all it depends on is their Win-loss record, for others, it’s about having a strong farm system, and to some, payroll matters.

      Here is my view on money in general(not just baseball), for what it’s worth.
      Money is never the answer. However, money can provide more solutions to the problem. A wider range of solutions means that there is a better likelihood of having an option that will solve the problem, but not always is the one that requires most money the best option.

      • Metsense
        April 24, 2013 at 8:34 am

        Most money is not the best option. The new free agency compensation rules makes it slightly ludicrous to pay for a qualified free agent and mess up your total draft budget for the year. There also is a body of work now that makes it very indicative that long range contracts for “over thirty” free agents are risky.(especially pitchers) A mistake in the high priced free agency market can lead to a team unable to compete for years. If you are a big market team that can spread the wealth among your players including your bench, instead of paying for one superstar, and develope a cost controlled star (like Harvey) then you will have a better chance at the playoffs year after year. I hope the Mets take their 34M 2014 dollars (and add another 30M to the budget) and improve their team at every and any available position possible but avoid the media superstar. It is very easy to get hung up on the intoxicating allure of a superstar but a winning team in NY will bring in more fans than a name player. It isn’t the most money that matters it is how you spend the money. Name, for what it’s worth, you are right.

      • Chris F
        April 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

        Name, while I appreciate the first part of your thought, I think an MLB team, and fans, really only have only one expectation: to win a world series. The second half of your thought I couldnt agree more with. Money is only a part of it. To wit: Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays. The person(s) making the decisions mean far more than money. Choosing the right option is priceless.

        • Name
          April 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

          “fans, really only have only one expectation: to win a world series”

          Not all fans think like that too. Personally, I like the regular season so much more than the playoffs because to win the playoffs you just need to get hot at the right time, making it pretty much a crapshoot.

          My main expectation for the team is to play competitive baseball for as long as possible. That means that I prefer 6 months of a grueling race for the division title than a runaway train where the Mets are ahead 10-15 games by August.

          “The person(s) making the decisions mean far more than money”

          Perfect sentence. To analyze a team, you should look at the personnel rather than the salary of the personnel. After all, there are numerous diamonds in the rough.

  12. April 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    The Mets had to sell shares of the team in order to raise capital. Despite owning a percentage in SNY and revenue from Citifield, ticket sales, and whatever additional sources they are still cash strapped and thus handicapped in their ability to put a team that is more representative of what we expect to see here in New York. What happens in the near future(2014?) when the Wilpons borrowing to build Citifield will come due. Refinancing their debts doesn’t put the team in any better position for the future. Building the future foundation for this club from within is fine with me. My gripe is with management in the way they’re willing to low ball players that have had some success here(Scott Hairston). Yet give 4 million to an at best number 4 starter like Shawn Marcum. Where’s the logic? Do you see a World Series in the foreseeable future for the Mets? Or for that matter making the playoffs?From what I read on Cot’s potential free agent out fielders for 2014 only Jacoby Ellsbury is worth any value and he’s a Scot Boras client. So we’re stuck with this out field unless you trade a pitcher. As for the bull pen I give up.

    • Metsense
      April 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Who would you rather have playing OF, Hairston or Byrd? Hairston and Wright were the only players on the team in 2012 that were above average offensively and defensively at their respected positions. The answer to my own question, they should have been able to afford both.

      • Chris F
        April 24, 2013 at 11:27 am

        And oddly enough easily could have! I must say though, Byrd has been pretty good.

        • Name
          April 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

          In my opinion, you should just play with the cards you’re dealt with rather than gripe about the situation that the team is in. So the Wilpons made a bad investment and now the team cant spend as much as before. Complaining doesn’t makes things better; it just takes time. It can’t be prosperous all the time.

          “My gripe is with management in the way they’re willing to low ball players that have had some success here”

          I agree with this statement. I really dislike the way Sandy low balls his offers to players. In my point of view, those offers he made to Dickey and Hairston were quite insulting. I hope word doesn’t get around the agents circle and cause them to not deal with Sandy anymore.

  13. April 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    They were able to afford both. They just miscalculated the market and thought Hairston would sign with them. I don’t see any game changing free agent coming to play for the Mets. What are the Mets going to do about the out field for 2014? It seems realistically a trade would be the only way to improve. I understand that just because the money is there you don’t spend it just because it’s available. So I’ll still cheer for the team and the players.
    To Name. I’m sure word is out already about Met management. But it doesn’t matter because free agents are going to go to either the Yankees or the Dodgers. Hopefully we’ll munch on left overs.

    • Name
      April 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      2014 OF (or any position for that matter) is too early to even think about, let alone discuss. There are a multitude of opportunities, injuries, surprises, disappoints that can happen from now to the start next year that it’s not really worth talking about now because something will probably change.

      The way i look at it:
      Worry abotut this season right now, while keeping next year in the back of your mind.

  14. April 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Agree! One year at a time. Haven’t given up on this year yet. I know it’s too early and I think injuries will play a major factor if the Mets are going to move up within the division,

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