Bullpen Needed This Rest
One of the ongoing jokes during yesterday’s rain out was that despite the rain out, Terry Collins had Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas warming up in the bullpen in case the game started on time. As with most jokes, this one did have a twinge of truth to it.
So far this season, the Mets bullpen has been going on an unsustainable rate. Mike Marshall holds the single season record for appearances by a reliever with his making 106 appearances for the 1974 Dodgers. The Mets record for appearances is Pedro Feliciano with 92 appearances in 2010. This was the reason why Gary Cohen dubbed him Perpetual Pedro. Interesting enough, Felicano’s record is tied for fourth all-time with Marshall, who had 92 appearances for the 1973 Expos. Right now, the Mets bullpen is set to challenge these records at an alarming rate.
Blevins is on a pace to make 102 appearances this season. Hansel Robles is on pace to make 94 appearances this season. Addison Reed and Salas are on pace to make 85 appearances this season. Josh Smoker is on pace to make 77 appearances this season. Obviously, this would be career highs for each of these pitchers.
If they are to keep up this pace, Blevins would be second all-time for single season appearances by a reliever, and Robles’ 94 appearances would tie the now standing second place position. Looking over the record list, no one has made more than 74 appearances in a season over the last five years. The bullpen’s usage is unprecedented in terms of how many appearances these relievers are making. It is utterly amazing that the current pace of these relievers would put them at the top five appearances made by a reliever in single season over the past five seasons.
When you combine the appearances with the amount of times these pitchers warm up, they are going to be on fumes. Certainly, we have seen some diminishing returns already from Salas. The rest of the bullpen may not be too far behind him. This bullpen needs a rest and the subsequent rain out helped. However, they need more help.
They may receive some help now that Jeurys Familia has returned from his suspension. Certainly, he is the reliever Collins’ trusts most, and he will likely be the one Collins over uses next. More than Familia, the bullpen can use some length from their starting pitching.
Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom are the only relievers averaging at least six innings per start. Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are averaging just over five innings per start. This means every night the bullpen needs to pick up at least 3-4 innings. With the Mets having already played four extra inning games to start the season, it has been much more than that.
The relative lack of length from the bullpen is understood. Harvey and deGrom are coming back from season ending surgeries last season. Wheeler has not pitched since 2014. Gsellman has not thrown more than 159.2 innings in a season. Really, you’re only workhorse right now is Syndergaard.
However, sooner or later something is going to have to give. The starters are going to have to give more length, or Collins is going to have to trust some of the other guys in the bullpen more. It’s understandable he hasn’t when Josh Edgin is a LOOGY with a 3.68 ERA, and his former long man, Rafael Montero, managed to get worse. The long story short here is someone has to step up. Otherwise, the bullpen may not last very long.