Mets Have Built Ultimate Boom Or Bust Bullpen

Just look at the names: Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, and now Dellin Betances. That is a list of names which is the envy of each and every Major League team, and when you break it down, it has the makings of being an all-time great bullpen.

In 2018, Diaz was as dominant as we have seen any closer be. In 73 appearances, he recorded a Major League leading 57 saves with a 1.96 ERA, 0.791 WHIP, and a 15.2 K/9.

Familia is the best right-handed closer in Mets history. From 2015 – 2016, he was second in the Majors in saves while having the third most innings pitched and ninth best ERA.

Lugo has been as dominant a reliever as the Mets have ever had, and really he has emerged to be as dominant as any reliever in the game. To put it in perspective of just how dominant and overlooked he has been, over the past two years, he has a better FIP while throwing more innings than two time All-Star Josh Hader.

As great as this group is, you can argue none of them are anywhere near as good as Betances has been. From 2014-2018, he was quite possibly the best reliever in all of baseball. In fact, his 11.2 fWAR was second best. He was best in innings pitched, third in K/9, fourth in fWAR, and fifth in appearances.

When you can line-up this level of relievers in a row, you’re making every game a 5-6 inning game for a starting staff which includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. That is not only a recipe for success, it is a recipe for pure dominance.

However, it is important to note next year is 2020, and based on the last few years, only Lugo has been pitching at this high a level.

Last year, Diaz had a career worst year. After the offseason, he talked about how he struggled handling New York, and as reported by Laura Albanese of Newsday, the Mets finally admitted he had been dealing with some health issues.

Familia also had a career worst year. With his having an arterial clot removed in 2017 and his dealing with shoulder issues again last year, you wonder if he can ever get back to the pitcher he was in 2018 (3.13 ERA) let alone his dominant form of 2014 – 2016.

Finally, there is Betances. Before partially tearing his Achilles last year, Betances had been shut down at the beginning of the 2019 season due to a bone spur issue in his shoulder, inflammation in the joint, and a strain to his his right latissimus dorsi muscle. When he finally came back, he had lost velocity on his pitches.

That was also before partially tearing his Achillies. The good news on that front is it did not require surgery, and he is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The downside  is no one can quite be sure what type of pitcher he will be in 2020.

Long story, short, this all means Jeremy Hefner has his work cut out for him. He has been handed an incredibly gifted bullpen which needs a lot of help getting back to their respective levels of dominance. If he is able to get this group at or near their apex, this Mets bullpen will be the best in the game, and when you factor in the talent and potential of relievers like Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, you could have an all-time great bullpen.

On the other hand, it is difficult to coach away injuries and diminution in stuff. To that end, no one can be quite sure how this bullpen will perform. As such, this “boom or bust” bullpen will be one of the key reasons why the Mets succeed or fail in 2020.

5 thoughts on “Mets Have Built Ultimate Boom Or Bust Bullpen”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “Boom or bust” is right–which made me think the team would have been better off going for the comparative certainty of Will Harris at his 8m AAV versus Betances’ 10.5+m salary. Still, the case can be made either way. The Mets had a bad offseason by my accounting and didn’t address the team’s needs wrt putting together a contender so, given that, might as well go for the higher upside of Betances since they’ll need as many star seasons as they can muster in order to overcome the decent (but nothing special) offense and the undernourished back half of the rotation. The other side is, how many gambles do you want to have to win just to get to 88 wins overall?

    “Last year, Diaz had a career worst year. After the offseason, he talked about how he struggled handling New York, and as reported by Laura Albanese of Newsday, the Mets finally admitted he had been dealing with some health issues.”

    —Called it. It was almost certainly overuse in the 11 days leading up to May 29.

    Btw, Gsellman is just a replacement level reliever. I’m not seeing him as necessarily belonging in the bullpen of a contender on Opening Day, though I guess someone has to pick up the elephant’s tail…–perhaps the best move is to package Gsellman with a #10 to #15 Mets prospect and upgrade the slot? Also, what do the Mets do with the 26th roster spot–is that Cespedes in effect, or do they go with 9 relievers during the bulk of the season, or with a 5 and even a 6 man bench? Or do you just mix and match depending on who’s healthy at the back end, who has options, and so on?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I think the 26th man is going to be effectively wasted on some combination of Cespedes, Lowrie, or both as at the moment it appears the Mets are going to have to carry players in their roster who will clear a physical but not be able to play anything close to everyday.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        Sounds right.

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