If you asked a random baseball fan from Atlanta or DC or Philadelphia what was wrong with the Mets, undoubtedly one of the first things they would bring up would be the awful bullpen. After watching the Braves’ telecasts of the just-concluded five-game series, I lost count of how many times their announcers talked about the poor Mets’ pen. This belief is not without merit, as the Mets’ bullpen ERA of 4.38 ranks 14th in the 15-team NL.

Yet the truth of the matter is the Mets have an average bullpen and it is being dragged down to the bottom due to a blind adherence to a policy that has failed going on three years now. Since the day he became manager, Terry Collins has made it clear how important it is to have two lefty relievers in the bullpen. This year he has gotten his wish for every game of the season. And just how has that worked out for him? Here’s the L/R breakdown for the team’s relievers:

RH – 163.2 IP, 64 ER, 3.52 ERA
LH – 62.1 IP, 46 ER, 6.64 ERA

The National League average for relievers is a 3.62 ERA.

Plus, the raw ERA does not tell the whole story. It doesn’t take into account the inability of these lefty relievers to pitch multiple innings to help out in a situation like Thursday night when the starter was removed in the fourth inning. Nor does it take into account how the lefties are utilized in a way to maximize their performance, even if it means a much worse matchup for a RHP three batters later.

And it does not address where a lefty comes in, fails at his job and then watches a righty bail him out. Think back to Matt Harvey’s last start, where Scott Rice was called in because back-to-back lefties were due up. He serves up a double and a walk, allows an inherited runner to score, but comes away with a 0.00 ERA for the appearance because Bobby Parnell got out of the bases-loaded jam.

If you have read this site for any time, you have seen numerous articles (check out the “Related Posts” links at the bottom of this article) on how this fascination with lefty relievers is hurting the club. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for different results. There’s never a reason to take a mediocre lefty over a competent righty. Yet we see Greg Burke demoted so the club can keep Rice.

How can there not be outrage over that decision? At what point do the masses demand accountability for failed policy decisions? Collins has managed his bullpen to maximize the effectiveness for his lefty relievers for 393 games with the Mets and his bullpen has been terrible the entire time.

Yet we are told how indispensable Tim Byrdak and his 4.08 ERA over 128 games and 68.1 IP were the past two seasons. We are supposed to wait with baited breath for the return of Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano. And we are supposed to pretend that when a bullpen needs to account for 470 innings in a season that it’s okay to carry two guys all year who regularly face a couple of batters in an appearance.

It’s one thing when the Mets do not have the talent to match up with other clubs. It’s another thing entirely when the decisions on who to carry on the roster makes the team even worse. It’s frustrating while watching Ike Davis put up a .435 OPS in 112 PA after calling for his demotion following 95 helpless PA to start the season.

But it’s even worse to watch inferior lefties take up spots on the roster, knowing full well that they will not pitch as much or as effectively as other available options. After his recall, Burke posts a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 IP. If those numbers came from a lefty, the fellating that would have ensued from the manager would have been off the charts. But because they came from a righty, they were deemed expendable.

Rumor has it that Burke will rejoin the club today but probably not at the expense of a lefty reliever. As long as Rice and his Doug Sisk impersonation act remains on the active roster, the Mets will be employing a sub-par pen, especially given Collins’ tendency to manage the game so he can bring on a lefty reliever at the first available chance.

12 comments on “Without lefty fetish the Mets would have an average bullpen

  • Metstheory22

    They were pretty good last night after Niese left. Work in progress, but getting there.

    • Brian Joura

      Outside of allowing all three inherited runners of Harvey to score, the bullpen had a really good series against Atlanta. It logged 14 IP and allowed just 1 ER.

    • Jennifer

      You’re way off base with Rice. He is the only lefty that has pitched well for us all
      year. Carson and Edgin have inflated the lefty ERA as has the over use of Rice. Rice is one of our most valuable assets in the bullpen if he’s not over used. He gets big lefty hitters out and induces ground balls. Open you eyes, more than half of the runs charged to Rice were let in by other relief pitchers while Rice has about a 75% success of not allowing inherited runners to score. Your article is totally distorted and lacks any facts. I don’t know why you always seem to be down on Rice

  • Jerry Grote

    The problem isn’t a dogged commitment to splits. It’s the inability to come up with a good left handed reliever that truly is dominant against LH players.

    I can definitely see keeping a guy (or two) that has that ability. The split differential is real, and you see it whenever Ike Davis or Lucas Duda has to bat against a quality LH arm out of the bullpen.

    Collins is just trying to make lemonade out of lemons. (to put it nicely).

    • steevy

      Yes,playing match ups is okay,IF you have a good lefty.Brian’s point is,we do not.Pitch the best guys,regardless of which arm they throw with.What’s the point of bringing in a lefty who stinks,simply because he’s a lefty?

  • blastingzone

    One answer is to bring up Leathersich then it won’t matter if he’s pitching against lefty’s or

  • peter

    Brian it’s not insanity. It’s STUPIDITY! Feliciano hasn’t pitched since? And Byrdak should just retire. It would be addition by subtraction.

  • Name

    I wanted to compare the Mets LHP to the average LHP in the NL… and what i found was surprising.

    The average NL lefty reliever had an ERA of 3.52, which is actually lower than the reliever ERA of 3.62. That means the lefties in the league as a whole are better than the righties. I guess since i was so used to our LHP stinking it up i assumed that it would be true for other teams, but it is actually the opposite. It also makes our 6.64 lhp era look even worse (but it makes our 3.52 Rhp look better!)

    Of course, the list is not an apples to apples comparison as the list i compiled includes lh SP who have made relief outings,long relievers as well as closers, while the LHP that we employ are LOOGY’s and middle relievers.

    • NormE

      Hey Name,
      Good work! However, one thing that is often overlooked is that the Mets LH pitching never has to pitch to the Mets hitters. That would probably help their stats.

  • Metsense

    TC and his accomplice Warthan are guilty as charged and the sentence should be dismissal instead of just dismissed becaue of insanity!
    If this bullpen was managed correcty it would be average. If the lineup was put together correctly then maybe there would be an improvement to the offense.
    TC said on the SNY postgame show that the two pinch hits last night were big and made Brown and Satin feel like part of the team. Hey Terry, if you platooned Satin at 1B with Duda (a career .646 OPS vs LHP) and started Brown most of the time in LF (instead of the anemic OPS of Kirk and Lagares) then not only would they feel like part of the team, they may even improve the team. So far all you have done is bury them on the bench.

  • peter

    I think it’s time for David Wright to voice to management first his apprehensions with TC and see what comes of it. He is the leader and can see internally how much damage is being done to the psyche of these young players. The Mets are not that bad a team. But they need a manager who knows how to manage and build their confidence. No one. I mean no one on this coaching staff deserves to be here after the All-Star break. Why waste another day of experimenting with the line up and positions of players? If TC needs to have three or four games to see that having players play out of their natural positions isn’t having positive results, then its time to move on. I can understand one game to see but now the pitching is starting to come together its time for a house cleaning.

  • SL

    Hallelujah, praise the lord! I’ve been screaming since the day he was hired that Collins is a bullpen butcher. I’m no fan of Alderson’s but it is incredulous to think that he has put together a disaster of a bullpen 3 years in a row. At SOME point, someone has to notice Collin’s obsession with supposed “matchups” principally, lefty-righty.

    Examples abound – the Jonathon Niese, Phillies game in which Ryan Howard was rested. Niese, out, and what a surprise, Howard pinch hits against a righty and delivers the game winning hit.

    Or Bobby Ojeda’s comment when Collin’s defended another absurd pitching change “he doesn’t do well against left handed sinker balls”. Ojeda “yeah, but only when it sinks”.

    Major League managers may not win a lot of games for you, but they CAN lose them, and Collins is that, in spades.

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