Going into the later innings of a Mets game last season was to say the least, nerve wracking. The 4.96 ERA that the bullpen brought in the later innings was the source of frustration for Mets players and fans, as well as losses for the team. Mets fans were reminded of this weak spot in their team when general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made his first signing with the team, left-handed reliever Ryan O’Rourke. O’Rourke has not pitched in the majors since 2016 when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins. When with the Twins, O’Rourke had an ERA of 4.98, with a WHIP of 1.26.
A signing like that of O’Rourke just goes to show the lack of depth that this team currently has at the bullpen position. On the team right now, there are currently two relievers who can truly be trusted late in games. Seth Lugo was extremely successful in his transition to the bullpen, posting a career low ERA of 2.66, while reaching 101.1 innings pitched for the second consecutive starter. While his dynamic ability to pitch long relief as well as pick up an occasional spot start is impressive, you can’t pencil him in for the closer role. Lugo had 3 last season, compared to the other reliever who is penciled in, Robert Gsellman, who had 13. Gsellman finished with an ERA of 4.28, which is not indicative of the way that he pitched. Gsellman had a solid season in relief and will be a part of the bullpen come 2019.
Beyond the two mentioned, the bullpen is bare bones. There is a gaggle of relievers, Daniel Zamora, Tyler Bashlor, and Tim Peterson, who have shown flashes in the pan in terms of success. Without being able to sustain their successes however, they will not be valuable to the bullpen. Inconsistency has hurt the team in the past, and it will hurt them as long as they let it. With this in mind, it is obvious that Van Wagenen needs to sign some bullpen help beyond O’Rourke.
For help this year in the bullpen, all the general manager needs to do is open up the rolodex and dial up Jeurys Familia. After trading away Familia to the soaring Oakland A’s last season, Familia has hit free agency. The Mets should steal a play from the book of their cross town rival, and bring back the reliever that they traded away. Familia was a vital member of the bullpen for the A’s while they chased down a spot in the wild card game. He set up for Blake Treinen, who had a fantastic season closing games in Oakland.
With the Mets however, Familia would be able to slip back into his familiar role of closer. One of the best things about the market for relief pitching this season is that with names like Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller out there, Familia’s price tag might fall. It would be the perfect opportunity for the Mets to sign a productive closer, and better yet, bring a great Met back home.