In spring training, the Mets bullpen looked really solid, from top to bottom. But, as the saying goes, “that’s why you play the games.” Closer Jeurys Familia notched 94 saves over the past two seasons while former closer Addison Reed was coming off his best season as a setup man. Also coming off good years were righty Fernando Salas and lefty Jerry Blevins, who would be counted on to bridge starter to closer, along with the hard-throwing Hansel Robles and the better of two lefties named Josh – Edgin and Smoker. Curveball master Seth Lugo was expected to fill out the pen as a long man/spot starter. Then the season started and that plan fell apart.
Familia was suspended and then injured. Lugo joined him on the DL and now that he’s finally back more than two months into the season, he’s needed in the rotation. Salas, Robles, and Smoker have all struggled mightily. Replacements like Rafael Montero and Neil Ramirez have been awful. Meanwhile the lone reliable arms – namely Reed and Blevins – have been overworked. Edgin has had his moments and Paul Sewald looks like a keeper, but the Mets could sure use another trusty arm in the late innings.
Robles doesn’t appear to be “figuring it out” in Las Vegas, where he’s pitching even worse than he did in Queens. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of options among his teammates either. Our old friend Erik Goeddel is sporting an ERA of 6.75. Amazingly that’s only fourth worst among 51’s relievers with at least 10 appearances this year. Remember Ben Rowen? He’s allowed 44 hits in 30.2 innings. Beck Wheeler? How about 18 walks in 26 innings. Corey Burns has an even worse walk to innings ratio. Surely David Rosenboom hasn’t been that bad, right? How about an 8.31 ERA and a WHIP of nearly 2. That’s only slightly worse than teammate Alberto Baldonado. This illustrious group, which includes nine pitchers, only features three with ERAs below 5.00 – Logan Taylor, Kevin McGowan, and Chasen Bradford. These guys all pitch to contact and sport high WHIP numbers that don’t bode well for Major League success.
Since Familia isn’t likely to be back in orange and blue until at least August, what’s a team to do? There was talk of moving Robert Gsellman to the bullpen, but that was assuming the other five starters (not counting the injured Noah Syndergaard, of course) would remain healthy. And what are the odds of that? Already, we’re on pins and needles with Matt Harvey‘s latest setback, counting Zack Wheeler‘s innings and crossing our fingers on Lugo’s elbow and Matz’ injury history.
It’s a little early for buyers and sellers to emerge in the trade market, so in the meantime, while the Mets battle to get back in the race, they’ll need to lean more on Sewald and Edgin, cross their fingers with Salas, and hope for more 7+ inning outings from the rotation. With Cespedes back in the lineup, a few 10-run games would help give the bullpen a break as well.