The Mets need a bullpen bazooka

Bazooka. Flamethrower. Cannon. “He can throw a marshmallow through a battleship.” There’s no shortage of military metaphors for the hard throwing strikeout pitcher. Over the past five years the Mets have had plenty of them in the rotation but not one reliable, classic rocket arm since Bobby Parnell and not a really lights out guy since Billy Wagner.

Sure Jeurys Familia can light up a radar gun, but like every other closer and setup man the Mets have had since 2013, he’s a gimmick pitcher who relies on a fickle secondary pitch to get people out. In his case, it’s a devastating sinker/splitter that about every third game he can’t control. For Robert Gsellman, it’s a sinker that sometimes eludes him. Likewise for Jerry Blevins and his sweeping curve and Anthony Swarzak and his biting slider. Addison Reed, who only tops out at about 92 or 93 mph, relies on a slider that can be hittable at times. For Seth Lugo, it’s a tight spin curveball. Jenry Mejia relied on a slider, as did Frankie Rodriguez, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Rice and Carlos Torres.

The classic closer – think Lee Smith and the soon-to-be-free agent Craig Kimbrel – relies on a blazing fastball to challenge hitters and uses a secondary pitch to keep them off-balance. Using a secondary pitch as, well, a primary out pitch is problematic because a pitcher is more likely to lose their feel of a breaking pitch than a fastball or even a cutter (Mariano Rivera, Kenley Jansen) or change up (Trevor Hoffman). There are exceptions of course as Yankees Delin Betances and Aroldis Chapman sometimes will lose control of their fastball, but this is not common among veteran relievers.

It’s fine to have guys like Gsellman and Blevins in the bullpen, but they need to complement a few guys who can throw a ball through a brick wall. Maybe one of many hard-throwing Mets kids will step up to play a critical role, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Job number one for the Mets new general manager will be rebuilding a very weak bullpen. Their 35 losses leads the National League and their peripheral numbers are downright ugly. Adding some big strikeout arms is where they should start. The free agent market will offer plenty of options to consider beyond Kimbrel, who’s averaged a ridiculous 14.7 K/9 for his career, such as Cody Allen, (11.5), Andrew Miller (10.6), David Robertson (12.0), Greg Holland (11.7), Kelvin Herrera (8.9), and Adam Ottavino (10.1). Zach Britton is no longer the strikeout pitcher he used to be, but may also be worth a look as a hard-throwing lefty with a sinker would certainly give this pen a new look.

11 comments for “The Mets need a bullpen bazooka

  1. September 28, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Strong disagree on Familia imo he’s the best reliever in franchise history and I’d gladly bring him back.

    • Mike Walczak
      September 28, 2018 at 11:13 pm

      McGraw, Orosco and John Franco.

  2. Metsense
    September 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

    They need an established closer. If they don’t spend the money then they may not make the playoffs next year. I think they should use Lugo, Gsellman and Oswalt as multi inning pitchers. Swarzak is under contract and we can hope he becomes the eighth inning set up man but I wouldn’t bank on it.

  3. Joe Gomes
    September 28, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Just bring Familia back

    • Mike Walczak
      September 28, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      I don’t want Familia. We need a change. Let’s get Kimbrel.

  4. September 28, 2018 at 11:11 am

    If the Mets can cut that number of 35 loses in half that would give them 90 wins or so. I’m not worried about the offense. Who’s the opening day catcher? How many times have we all said defense and pitching wins in the playoffs? Strength up the middle. One or 2 key signings for the pen and the Mets can and will contend for at least a wildcard if not more.

  5. TJ
    September 28, 2018 at 11:57 am

    If the Mets are serious about the division in 2019, they need multiple arms added to the pen. Swarzak may be here by default, and with a little health should be better than in 2018, but if the Mets are hoping he can be the 8th inning guy, they might as well go the rebuild route. He should be slated as a middle reliever at best. By default, this means the addition of two proven quality back end arms. In this scenario, Familia should be viewed as an 8 th inning guy. Lugo can be viewed as an 8 th inning guy, and either can close when the proven closer is unavailable. They also need to add a lefty somehow, as Zamora can potentially be a piece but there is no plan b or depth behind him. Lots of work and money required here for sure.

  6. Joe F
    September 28, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    The bullpen needs a ton of help and catcher is an obvious area to upgrade, but those two areas are notorious for being hit or miss, so the Mets could do the right thing and spend the money, but still get scotched

  7. MattyMets
    September 28, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    At his best, Famila is a good closer. No question. But I like strike throwers coming out of the pen. Even when he’s on, he’s putting guys on base and his post season performance is concerning.

  8. Pete from NJ
    September 28, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Familia made me nervous every time he took the ball. His lack of control in his full 2016/2018 seasons was a concern and made his outings very inconsistent. I don’t know who was happier and relieved when he walked off the mound after a save, me or him. But of course I would love so see our old cohort blow the Yankees away next week during thier wild card game.

    Next year is a crap shoot. I thing we were all very happy with the deep bullpen(on paper)coming out of spring training. So who knows how much value can be acquired from the Wilpon’s checkbook for next season.

  9. Metsvibes
    September 28, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    Bobby Parnell 9 years with the Mets and only 37 saves that tells it all, fastball straight as a string.

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