What Happened To This Bullpen?
Watching the game yesterday, we all got to see both Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed meltdown. Since both players were acquired by the Mets, both pitchers have been as dominant as you could expect. This was a day after Hansel Robles, who has arguably been the Mets best reliever this season, completely melted down. If you have been watching the Mets so far this season, you expected this to happen sooner or later.
With the loss of Noah Syndergaard and the rest of the starting pitching staff under-performing, Terry Collins has had to go to the bullpen far too frequently early this season. In fact, Jacob deGrom is the only starting pitcher who is averaging at least six innings this season. Essentially, the bullpen is needed for about 40% of the innings pitched in any game. The four extra inning games doesn’t help much either.
What also doesn’t help is how Collins has chosen to deploy his bullpen. Lately, we have seen Collins using multiple relievers to get through just one inning. What is bizarre about that approach is the score doesn’t matter. Collins is as prone to do this in a one run game as he is in a five run game. When you go to the well too often with the same guys time and again, you are going to tire your bullpen arms out. It’s now the middle of May, and the Mets are about one-fifth through their schedule. Here is the current pace for each of the Mets relievers:
No one has made more than 90 appearances in a season since Pedro Feliciano made 92 appearances for the 2010 Mets. The Mets currently have three relievers on pace to make 90 appearances. The last time there were multiple pitchers in baseball who made 90 appearances in a season was 1979. By the way, this is the only time it has happened in major league history. The last time there were five relievers who have made 80 plus appearances in all of baseball. On their own, the Mets are on pace to do that.
But it’s not just those relievers. Jeurys Familia was eligible to pitch in just 18 games between his suspension and subsequent surgery. Familia pitched in 11 of those games. At that usage rate, Familia was on a pace to appear in 99 games. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise as Familia has led the major leagues in appearances since the 2014 season.
Josh Smoker was demoted on May 9th due to his pitching to a 7.88 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP. When he was demoted, Smoker had appeared in 15 of the Mets 32 games. At the rate he was used, Smoker was on pace to appear in 76 games. That number usually leads most teams. That number was the sixth most on the Mets.
Since Paul Sewald has been recalled on May 1st, he is pitching on a pace to appear in 68 games this season. This makes him the reliever who has been pitching with a manageable workload. He is also one of the best relievers in the Mets bullpen right now.
Overall, this bullpen is being used at an unprecedented rate. As we saw in Milwaukee, this bullpen is starting to crack. That’s troubling when you consider the Mets have carried an extra reliever for much of the season. The blame for this goes on the starters for not going deep into games. It also goes on Collins for him not being judicious in how he deploys his bullpen arms. Whatever the case, what was once a strength for the Mets is now becoming a liability. Something has to change and fast.