If 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.