Should we be optimistic about the 2015 Mets bullpen?

bullpenIf you polled most fans about how they felt about the 2015 Mets bullpen, most would be fairly optimistic. The team has a good corps of relievers coming back and a lot of the dead weight from 2014 is either already gone or won’t make the team out of Spring Training. But is this optimism misplaced? One thing we know for sure is that reliever performances can fluctuate wildly from year to year due to the small sample size. Those that performed well last year can hardly be written in stone to do so again and it seems there’s no shortage of lousy relievers to replace the lousy ones removed from the past year.

So, you’re excited about losing Farnsworth, Germen, Lannan, Matsuzaka, Rice and Valverde? The year before the club bid adieu to Aardsma, Atchison, Burke, Byrdak, Carson, Francisco and Lyon. The previous year the Mets cut ties to Acosta, Batista, Carrasco, E. Ramirez and R. Ramirez. Whether we want to admit it or not, the supply of relievers that have us reaching for antacid tablets regenerates faster than the title character in Doctor Who.

And for the first time, it appears that the Mets will be cutting ties to two very effective relievers, too. Buddy Carlyle and Dana Eveland combined for a 1.99 ERA over 58.2 innings last year and neither seems likely to return here in late December. Is it a given that duo would repeat their sterling performance from a year ago? No, it isn’t likely at all. Still, the Mets have to essentially replace a full year of a quality relief pitcher some way.

In a perfect world, Bobby Parnell comes back and replaces both the innings and production of Carlyle and Eveland. Parnell was fantastic in 2013 when he posted a 2.16 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP over 50 IP. He’s also a guy with a career 3.57 ERA and a 1.386 WHIP coming off elbow surgery. If he pitches 5/6 of a full year at his career rate, we should consider it a win. It still won’t match the 2014 production of Carlyle and Eveland.

How about the core guys that are returning, the ones who have us excited due to how well they pitched last year? Let’s take a look at those five on an individual basis:

Vic Black – His peripherals in 2014 produced a 4.16 xFIP
Josh Edgin – His manager’s sub-optimal usage of Edgin will result in fewer than 50 IP.
Jeurys Familia – After getting off to a great start with limiting walks, he allowed 16 BB in his last 34.1 IP
Jenrry Mejia – Had the 12th-highest WHIP among relievers last year and the second-worst mark among closers.
Carlos Torres – No RH reliever has topped 90 IP in back-to-back seasons for the Mets since Roger McDowell in 1985-86. The last guy to do it even once, Pat Mahomes in 2000, had a 5.70 ERA the following season.

There are reasons to be optimistic about the 2015 bullpen but anyone who thinks they’re a lock to have good performances from at least five guys needs to re-think things. Let’s hold out hope that Carlyle and Eveland (or reasonable facsimiles) get NRIs and are a phone call away in Las Vegas once the season starts.

25 comments for “Should we be optimistic about the 2015 Mets bullpen?

  1. JC
    December 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    nothing about any teams bull pen is a lock as you put it. That is the nature of relievers. from year to year any player can have a down year or a bounce back one for that matter. The key is to accumulate good arms and in the mets case thats good young arms I’d take my chances with this pen I am plenty happy enough with this pen. Especially if another Lefty brakes camp with the team to keep pressure off of Edgen.

  2. Julian
    December 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Replacing Carlyle’s and Eveland’s production isn’t hard considering the positions they were put in. They were both put in when the Mets were losing or winning by a significant margin. Very infrequently did Collins put them in a big position, and when he did they allowed runs. I’m not saying they are bad pitchers, but simply that every bullpen has the guy(s) who clean up at the end of the game.

    In regards to Parnell, he does, in fact, have a career ERA of 3.57 ERA with a 1.386 WHIP, but as a reliever he has a far more respectable ERA of 2.99 and less alarming 1.31 WHIP.

    The bullpen, for every team, is somewhat of a question mark at times- but it all comes down to execution, and the Mets of 2014 past May 15th were very solid in doing. While we shouldn’t look at the bullpen as an automatic lock, we should give the core of pitchers some credit.

    • December 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Good point about Parnell’s SP/RP splits.

      I think you’re mistaken about the ease in replacing Carlyle and Eveland. Compare their gLI to other pitchers on the team in years past who had similar leverage usage. The WPAs of those other pitchers are nowhere near as good as Carlyle and Eveland. Unless you want to see the return of the likes of David Aardsma, Ramon Ramirez, Robert Carson, Dale Thayer and DJ Carrasco.

  3. Name
    December 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Well, according to Fangraphs, the 2014 Mets relievers have nowhere to go but up, because they finished dead last in combined WAR and was the 3rd “worst” bullpen ever in the history of the Mets… behind only 1962 and 1966.

    • Dude - pick a better handle
      December 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Try running a 1st and 2nd half season split.

      • Name
        December 28, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        1st half -.7 WAR and dead last
        2nd half -.7 WAR and dead last

        Since you don’t know me well, i was actually mocking fangraph’s fWAR for Met relievers because it gives too much emphasis on “low-leverage” vs “high leverage” situations.
        For example, it gives no love to someone like Carlos Torres, who “cost” the Mets .5 WAR when anyone with half a brain could realize Torres was a tremendous asset last year.

        While the Mets bullpen wasn’t elite, it certainly wasn’t last or even the bottom 5.

  4. Mack Ade
    December 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I am – because we will actually have some legitimate options this year that include names like Montero and Sewald

    • Patrick Albanesius
      December 28, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Nice point Mack. Montero will probably see some time in the pen, which might take some heat off of Torres’ innings. His walks were still way too high after being recalled last year, and if Leathersich gets the call, he will have the same problem. Velocity and Ks will have to make up for 1-3 walks ever inning when the starters leave.

  5. Rob
    December 28, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I am cautiously optimistic about our pen. Many of the reasons you cited are on my mind as well as Black’s almost 5 walks per 9 innings and the fact that he was so wild he couldn’t even make the team out of ST. Mejia and Familia both are coming back from off season surgery. Edgin cannot be considered a lock either as he couldn’t make the team either out of ST. Torres imo is due to have a big regression because he has played well above his skill level the last two years and the over usage you commented on. And Parnell isn’t just coming back from elbow surgery but also major neck surgery he has yet to pitch after having. There are serious concerns, so why would I be even cautiously optimistic? In one word “quality” we have for the first time in years a collection of quality arms with real upside to them, instead of castoffs that nobody else wanted and were cheap not to mention youth and aside from Torres low mileage on them as well. If nothing else at least we have guys that can throw the ball through a brick wall if need be, something we could not say at anytime in the last decade that I can remember.

    • Metsense
      December 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Good points Rob and they put me in the cautiously optimistic category. I get discouraged when TC announces that Parnell is his “closer” when he gets back. The man hasn’t pitch in 18 months and TC wants to put him in high leverage situations immediately. I scratch my head. I hope Parnell pitches well enough to be able to trade his expiring contract for something worthwhile at the trade deadline.
      The Mets have many good arms in their minor league system that should help the major league bullpen during the course of the 2015 season. TC needs to utilize them properly and not abuse them. I have less optimism in that statement.

      • Rob
        December 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

        Yes sir we do have the arms on the farm to compensate hopefully for anyone that falters. My dark horse candidate to make the team out of ST and have a good roll in 2015 is Hansel Robles. If you look at his stats after he was moved to the BP this past year he was lights out across the board. And he continued his dominant pitching in the DR winter league as well , keep an eye on him this spring.

  6. ExileInLA
    December 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    About Torres: 20% of his innings came in 5 appearances — including a 5IP spot start, and 2 other games where he came in for injury replacements in the 1st/2nd inning. So while he did have a lot of appearances (73 total), I don’t know if he had as much strain on his arm as 97 IP might otherwise suggest…

    • December 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      That’s definitely interesting but I’m not sure how relevant it is.

      • JC
        December 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        I think it’s a relevant point because what concerns most, I won’t presume to characterize your concern, about Torres is that he will lose his effectiveness due to overexposure and arm fatigue. Given that most his innings came in a spot start or traditional long relief their have been less stress on his arm in his 73 appearances because they were not necessarily high leverage or taxing in that he had to get up over and over again in the pen like a lefty specialist or 1 inning fire man might.

        As true as that is its merely one tool for estimating how an arm is likely to rebound. The fact that most of our arms are young is another and as has been pointed out by other posters the fact that for the first time in a long time we as an organization have many internal options should someone get injured or not work out. As I said above the bull pen is the hardest part of a team to forecast but there is plenty of reason for optimism with the mets pen.

  7. Steevy
    December 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Hard to be optimistic about a bullpen being run by Terry Collins.

  8. James Preller
    December 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I am hopeful about the pen, but disappointed that Semi-retired Sandy did not do anything to meaningfully upgrade the talent level.

    Familia and Mejia have injury histories, and Parnell’s return to form is not guaranteed. I like Vic Black’s live arm, but he hasn’t put together a full season yet, nor has Edgin. There’s a lot of talent in this group, more than we’ve seen in years, but no pen is a sure thing, especially this one.

    I like Mack’s point about the reserves, Montero and Seward, though I’m not at all sure that either is going to be ready to become a prime-time guy in 2015.

    And as someone mentioned above, TC has shown little skill in managing a pen in the past. I don’t think he has the touch, and that’s what scares me the most. I had really hoped that Sandy could bring in a quality reliever via trade this winter; maybe that will still happen with Gee down the line. Currently it’s a very young, very inexperienced group. I see it as an area of real concern.

    • JC
      December 28, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      I actuly like that Sandy did not chose to block our young arms with some FA. You have one need for this pen, that of a 2nd lefty I like the idea of a competition for that role with the rule 5 kid and Rice. I would liek to see him add one more lefty reliever ether by trade or a minore league deal to compete but Bull pen is one area you really did not need to sign a guy to say you had.

      • December 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        It will be a great day when we stop thinking of two LH relievers as a necessary thing.

        • JC
          December 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm

          I don’t know that I’ll ever stop thinking of a 2nd lefty or lefties in general as a necessity because I like a versatile pen and having 2 lefties allows you to play more matchups. In my dream pen one would be a Late inning guy (7th or 8th inning type) with the other being an early inning lefty (Read long man or Specialist).

          • old guy
            December 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm

            Why would you choose versatility over good pitchers? The Mets have spent years using terrible pitchers because they threw lefty. This “versatility” ends up badly. It’s no different than carrying Joe McEwing or Rod Kanehl. It’s great they’re willing to stand at whatever position you ask them to. It would be better to have a guy who was good at one position. It’s great that Scott Rice is willing to pitch in 12 straight games. It would be better to have a pitcher who didn’t serve up meatballs to most of the batters in the game. Nobody is more of a traditionalist than me but I’m ready to make a rule that says a pitcher has to pitch one inning unless he’s hurt. It would get rid of these guys who belong in Tidewater and make it a better game to watch.

            • JC
              December 28, 2014 at 10:39 pm

              well if they were in Tidewater they’d be property of a different team these days but putting that aside. Versatility mater in the pen and on the bench because we play in the national league. Their are double switches and matchups to exploit. In this era when stats and player tenancy play such a huge roll we should be capable of exploiting them. In the AL you can afford to have a bunch of one position players clogging up your bench but personally if thats the approach you take I think you are weakening one of the things about this game that make it so fun to follow, the strategy. When do you pull the pitcher? can you burn a pinch runner. If you have a tough lefty bat up can you neutralize it by going to the matchup. I love the strategy of the game it is a reason I’m the only met fan in a family of Yankee and Red Sox fans. I hate the DH because it diminishes the strategy I love so much.

              • Name
                December 29, 2014 at 12:22 am

                “Versatility mater in the pen”

                Then why are you advocating for a 1-trick pony that can only throw to lefties and serves up meatballs to righties?

                If you want to maximize versatility, Get guys who can pitch to guys no matter which side they bat from.

                • JC
                  December 29, 2014 at 12:56 am

                  because I believe it is easier to keep hitters off balance if they are not looking at the same thing every time. Versatility takes many different forms in the pen. Lefties righties flame throwers breaking ball specialist. different relies points. I like all those differences to be present but failing that I want to exploit matchups.

                  As for why I’m specifically advocating a Lefty specialist, it would be great if the 2 Lefties could face both but recognizing there are few perfect players I want my pen to be in the position to exploit matchups. I believe you’re better suited to do that if you have 2 lefties whatever form they take. As I said one of my lefties Ideally would be a late inning guy who could face both but not having that I want the most diverse and versatile pen I can build. I think that includes 2 lefties if you don’t I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. there are many ways to win in baseball and no you don’t need 2 lefties i just think it is optimal to have 2 out there.

                • Name
                  December 29, 2014 at 2:06 am

                  If we’re just speaking in hypotheticals my optimal bullpen is 7 Craig Kimbrels.

                  I’m all for 2 lefties if they are guys like Chapman, Britton, Jake Mcgee, but for the best remaining lefty options still available to the Mets there are probably 10 other righty relievers who are better.

  9. Patrick Albanesius
    December 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I think part of JC’s point is that having only one lefty means that guys who repeatedly face him will get accustomed to his stuff throughout the year, and therefore that one lefty could become less effective as the year goes on. I think that’s theoretical, and would be tough to prove, if that is indeed his point. Edgin has proven he can pitch to both righties and lefites as Brian wrote about last year, so we don’t really have a lefty specialist in the pen right now. Do we need one? Probably not. But Collins sure thinks he does and unfortunately his is the only opinion that matters right now.

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