Mets Need A Long Man In The Bullpen
There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year. One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season. This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games. It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.
This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever. Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List. With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.
Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles. We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher. More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.
The latest example was on Tuesday. The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break. At that point, who knows?
And this Mets team looked resilient last night. Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth. Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez. To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.
Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option? Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen. Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.
Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever. Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man. In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him. Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.
This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game. Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points. They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots. While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.