Walker somehow got out of the first allowing “just” four runs. In the second, you saw he was off. It was 6-0 with runners at the corners and no outs. Doubleheader or not, Walker had to come out of the game.
That meant the New York Mets unsung hero Trevor Williams came into the game. He did what he always does. He gave the Mets innings.
En route to giving up the inherited runs, he got the Mets out of the inning. He’d load the bases in the third, but he wiggled his way out of the jam.
After throwing just one inning over two weeks, we was summoned to take the ball and do the thankless task of just eating innings. When all was said and done, Williams did not allow a run over four innings.
Williams answered the call and got the job done just like he has all season.
When the Mets were dealing with injuries to Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tylor Megill, he jumped back into the rotation. He gave the Mets eight credible starts including a seven scoreless against the Miami Marlins.
As a reliever, he has a 1.29 ERA over 12 appearances and 28 innings pitched. Of the 12 appearances, eight of them are multiple innings. Of those eight, five were 3+ innings.
His work in the rotation has meant credible starts helping keep the Mets in first place. His relief work has saved the bullpen and allowed their big arms to pitch another day.
Just look at what happened in this last game. The Mets fought their way back into the game. This forced the Braves to use all of their high leverage relievers.
The Mets didn’t have to use any, really just Williams. This is what makes Williams so vital to this team, and what he does goes beyond the numbers.
Williams is a reason the rotation has been great. After all, he was a part of it. He’s a reason the bullpen has been great. After all, he’s been a part of it. On the later, Diaz only needing to pitch in high leverage situations is part of the reason, Díaz is having an all-time great season.
Like with Pat Mahomes in 1999, Darren Oliver in 2006, and Sean Gilmartin in 2015, Williams is that long man who is a vital part of the team. Eating these innings while pitching very well makes the team great.
In the aforementioned three seasons, the Mets were a great team who went deep in the postseason. Williams will be a reason why the Mets do it again this season.
In the third game of the season, Buck Showalter shoehorned Trevor Williams into a game under the auspices he needed to get the reliever work. In that game, Williams was credited with a blown save and a loss after allowing two unearned runs. After Williams blew that game, it seems like Showalter feels no need to get him into a game again.
In fact, since that game, Williams has only gotten into four more games. Aside from the “start,” each of those times the score differential was more than four runs. That included when the Atlanta Braves put a beating on the Mets. All told, whatever you want to call a low leverage reliever, that’s what Williams is.
It’s really bizarre when you look at is. For example, Sean Reid-Foley, a pitcher who was widely anticipated was going to be designated for assignment, was used on seven different occasions. He’s been on the IL for about two weeks now, and he still has three more appearances.
We have also seen some diminishing returns from Adam Ottavino. Ottavino has been mostly good with nine scoreless relief appearances out of his 12 appearances for the season. That said, Showalter also felt compelled to use him for three consecutive days in a series against the Braves. That helped lead to the aforementioned blowout and Williams’ fourth appearance of the season.
The problem there is the Mets need that one extra right-handed arm in the pen. Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Drew Smith are the late inning relievers. Joely Rodriguez and Chasen Shreve are there for the left-handed relievers. Ottavino was fine for the middle innings, and Trevor May was there for that bridge, but now he’s injured and gone for months.
This could have been a chance to see what Williams has in the tank. However, the Mets haven’t seemed inclined to use him at all. That was even the case in doubleheaders where a spot start opportunity was there. The Mets understandably and correctly went with David Peterson.
Williams was actually useful in the Mets bullpen last season, and he did show some promise. In eight appearances, he pitched 22.1 innings with a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.83 K/BB. Digging deeper, there is something there with Williams.
Generally speaking, he induces weaker contact than most pitchers, and batters have a hard time squaring the ball up against him. Typically speaking, he induces pull side ground balls. With the Mets ability to shift plus having Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil up the middle, this should play right into the Mets hands.
He has an effective sinker, and his change is a weapon. We’ve seen his sinker be one as well. There is something there with Williams even if that is being a long or low leverage reliever. Perhaps he could be more, especially refining things and working on pitch mixes with Jeremy Hefner, but he would have to get the reps to do that.
On the long reliever front, he’s been dormant for even that role. For example, Sean Gilmartin made 50 appearances in 2015, and we saw Darren Oliver make 45 appearances in 2006. So far, Williams is on a pace to make 21 appearances. That’s not going to help him, and it’s not going to help the rest of the bullpen.
Sooner or later, the Mets are going to have to give Williams more chances. They’re going to have to get him in a rhythm and try to establish himself as a real part of this bullpen. If he does, this bullpen is even better. If not, you can move on and find someone else. However, if you’re not pitching him, you can’t make any of these needed assessments. That needs to change soon.
The New York Mets have to effectively rebuild much of their pitching staff. Put another way, they need to find a number of quality innings from their pitching staff. That’s why they should be considering Gio Gonzalez.
Getting the obvious out of the way, Gonzalez is not an answer in the rotation. In fact, he hasn’t really been that since the first half of the 2018 season.
Yes, Gonzalez did pitch effectively for the Milwaukee Brewers starting late in that 2018 season. However, they used him as a roughly four to five inning starter. This year he wasn’t even that for the White Sox.
Gonzalez lasted four starts before being moved to the bullpen. With his starting the year with a 6.00 ERA and being unable to pitch at least 5.0 innings at least once, he forced the White Sox hands. In some ways, they did him a favor.
After getting moved to the bullpen, Gonzalez made seven appearances pitching to a 2.53 ERA with him striking out nearly a batter over 10.2 innings. During this stretch, his innings pitched ranged from 0.1 to 3.2 innings.
Sure, it wasn’t all perfect with Gonzalez having a paltry 1.11 K/BB ratio. He also sputtered at the end allowing runs in two out of his last three appearances. Still, when you look at the whole picture, he’s an enticing bullpen option.
One major reason why is the three batter rule. With that rule, it is increasingly difficult to carry LOOGYS. Still, when you have a division with Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto, you need left-handed relievers who can get big left handed bats out.
In his career, Gonzalez has dominated left-handed batters limiting them to a .228/.299/.346 batting line. He has also more than held his own against right-handed batters limiting them to a .243/.325/.374 batting line.
Now, his splits against right-handed batters have fallen off since his top 10 Cy Young finish in 2017, he did limit right-handed batters to a .212 batting average since being moved to the bullpen.
One reason why is Gonzalez still has good stuff. According to Baseball Savant, Gonzalez posted terrific exit velocity and whiff% numbers. His hard hit percentage and curve spin were also quite indicative of what you expect to see from a strong reliever.
On the subject of Lugo, we’ve seen the immense value in having a multiple inning reliever in the bullpen. Lugo’s ability to do both this and close makes him a Swiss Army knife. It’d be great for the Mets to add a left-handed compliment. That’s what Gonzalez could be.
In some ways, Gonzalez could be akin to what the Mets got from Darren Oliver in 2006. In many ways, Gonzalez and Oliver compare favorably.
Both pitchers are fastball/curveball pitchers at their core. They both had control issues throughout their career. Both starting working out of the bullpen in their age 33 seasons.
The question for Gonzalez if he’ll accept the role in the bullpen to lengthen his career like Oliver did. When that happened, Oliver both prolonged his career and helped the Mets win the division.
Gonzalez may have that chance now. He could be the left-handed compliment to Lugo. He could be a key reliever. He could very well be a key piece to a team popping champagne at the end of the 2021 season.
There is a real case to be made here for Bobby Bonilla as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. Through all of the negatives associated with him and his career, by wRC+, he is the Mets 10th best hitter. He was a two time All-Star in his first four year stint with the Mets. He did what the team needed him to do whether that was playing right field or third base.
No, Bonilla was never popular, and things go continually worse. There is far too much negative associated with him now whether it was him playing cards with Rickey Henderson during Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS or his deferred payments which are made to be an annual fiasco.
However, none of those reasons are why he wasn’t selected as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. No, the reason why he wasn’t selected was because Pedro Feliciano is the greatest LOOGY in Mets history.
Feliciano first came to the Mets in 2002 when they were looking for a taker for Shawn Estes. When Estes didn’t hit Roger Clemens and with the Mets having a terrible year, it was time to move on from him. Not quite knowing what they had in him, the Mets first waived Feliciano to make room on the 40 man roster only to sign him as a free agent after the Tigers first claimed then released him.
That began what was a very interesting subplot to Feliciano’s career. This was the first time in his career Feliciano left the Mets organization. He would do it again in 2005, 2011, and 2014. Despite that, in Feliciano’s nine year Major League career, he would only wear a Mets uniform.
In his first stint, he was a middling reliever who had to go to Japan to hone his craft. As noted by Michael Mayer of MMO, Feliciano altered his throwing program, and the smaller strike zone helping him hone is command. This improvement helped him secure a minor league deal to help him return to the Mets. Back with the Mets, he worked with Rick Peterson to drop his arm angle. From that point forward, he became a great LOOGY.
Arguably, that 2006 Mets bullpen was the best bullpen in team history. Notably, in a bullpen with Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver, it was Feliciano who led that bullpen in ERA+. He’d accomplish that feat with the Mets again in 2009.
In that 2006 season, left-handed batters would only hit .231/.272/.316 off of him. He’d strike out 44 left-handed batters while only walking five. That equates to him striking out a whopping 34.6% of left-handed batters that season. He would then get some big outs that postseason.
In Game 1 of the NLDS, he relieved John Maine in the fifth, and he struck out Kenny Lofton with runners on first and second with no outs. In Game 3, he retired Nomar Garciaparra with the bases loaded, and when the Mets took the lead in the top of the sixth, he would be the winner of the game clinching victory.
Overall, that postseason, Feliciano made six appearances, and he pitched to a 1.93 ERA. Ultimately, in that disappointing postseason which fell just one hit short of the World Series, Feliciano did his job. That was a theme for Feliciano, he came in and did his job.
Beginning in 2008, Feliciano would lead the league in appearances. He would lead the league in appearances in each of the ensuing two seasons. His constantly appearing in games led Gary Cohen to dub him Perpetual Pedro. He would be used so frequently, Feliciano would achieve the very rare feat of appearing in over 90 games in the 2010 season.
When making that 90th appearance, Feliciano became the first left-handed reliever in Major League history to appear in 90 games. When he broke the single-season mark for a left-handed reliever held by Steve Kline and Paul Quantrill.
In appearing in 92 games in 2010, he made more appearances over a two year span than any left-handed reliever in history. In fact, in Major League history, only Mike Marshall and Kent Tekulve have made more appearances in back-to-back seasons, and they did that in the 1970s.
Since the turn of the century, Feliciano is the only reliever to appear in 85+ games not only in two seasons in a row but three season in a row. In fact, from 2006 – 2010, Feliciano would appear in 19 more games than any other reliever, and he would appear in 50 more games than any other left-handed reliever.
Through it all, Feliciano would appear in 484 games as a member of the Mets. Only John Franco would appear in more games as a Mets reliever. Among Mets relievers, his .212 batting average against and .263 wOBA against left-handed batters is the best, and both are by significant margins.
Taking everything into account, Feliciano is the best LOOGY in Mets history, and it is by a very wide margin. When you are ultimately the best at what you do than anyone else in the 58 year history of your franchise, you should be considered the best to ever wear your number.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
If you look at the Mets bullpen, the theme appears to be “If.” If this bullpen is healthy, and if this bullpen performs to its full potential, it is going to be one of the best in the game.
The flip side of that is if it isn’t, we’re going to see more of the same.
That’s the way it is with bullpens. You just try to acquire as many quality guys as you can, and you hope it works. Perhaps with Jeremy Hefner, this is more primed to work.
One thing we do know is starting pitching can help a bullpen. The deeper starters can go, the less you need to go to the well. This keeps your relievers healthier and fresher which hopefully leads to better productivity.
That brings us back to what the Mets have opted to do with their pitching this offseason.
In signing Betances, Wacha, and Rick Porcello, the Mets have spent $23.5 million guaranteed. That number rises to $30.5 million if Wacha hits all of his incentives.
That $23.5 million figure is important because that’s just a hair off of what the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler per year.
Essentially, the Mets believed Porcello plus a reclamation project in Wacha and Betances. With Betances, remember prior to the Achillies, he had dealt with a shoulder impingement and lat issue all through the 2019 season.
Even when Betances did return, he admitted to his stuff and velocity not being there. That was before he partially tore his Achilles.
Yes, Betances is an arm well worth the gamble. Not only has he shown the ability to flat out dominate, but he’s also shown the ability to do it in New York. That’s important.
Still, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of rolling the dice on three relievers when you’re already rolling the dice on two relievers who were supposed to be your top two relievers. Add to that the significant downgrade from Porcello, who you’re also rolling the dice on, from Wheeler, and you’re left wondering if this was the best allocation of resources.
That does double when you consider Wheeler stays in the division making the Phillies significantly better.
Ultimately, the 2020 bullpen and pitching staff as a whole may be better. Then again, the bullpen could be more of the same with the pitching staff as a whole far worse.
Of course, the Mets bullpen could’ve remained the same and been far better as a result of Diaz adapting better to New York, and the elimination of the super ball helping him, Familia, and the rest of the bullpen.
That’s the gamble the Mets took. They decided on adding a group of lesser pitchers being better than the known quantity in Wheeler.
It’s not a smart bet, but it’s still possible the Mets bet pays off. No matter what, the Mets better be right here.
While things have been going well recently, the Mets have had trouble identifying those relievers whom they can use and trust to eat up innings and take care of games where they have large leads. When that is an issue for your team, you wind up using and wasting good relievers in non-critical spots. You are also forced to use good relievers when it should not have been necessary.
On August 6, the Mets had a five run lead heading into the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the National League. After eight dominant innings from Zack Wheeler, the Mets went to Robert Gsellman in the ninth. The following night, the Mets once again had a five run lead heading into the ninth. The team would use Jeurys Familia and Luis Avilan to close out the game.
On the roster at that time was Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart. The team did not use either reliever in that spot or really any spot. Truth be told if you can’t trust those relievers to close out games against the worst team in the National League, you don’t have any business being on the roster. It should come as no surprise neither pitcher is currently on the Mets roster.
When Mazza and Hart went down, Drew Gagnon was one of the relievers who replaced them on the roster. The Mets would bring Gagnon to pitch the eighth inning in the August 15 game against the Braves. At that time, the Mets had a 10-3 lead, and they just needed someone to pitch the final two innings to give the bullpen a rest. Instead, Gagnon would allow four homers, including a homer to Freddie Freeman in consecutive innings, thereby necessitating Edwin Diaz coming into the game to record the save in a 10-8 game.
This led to Paul Sewald being selected from Syracuse and re-joining the Mets bullpen. While this was largely met with eye rolls and consternation, Sewald is exactly what the Mets needed. In yesterday’s 9-2 victory over the Indians, the Mets would use Sewald out of the bullpen in the ninth. There would be no drama as he would allow a double while striking out three batters. In the grand scheme of things, these are the types of outings which are both necessary and overlooked.
Since his debut in 2017, Sewald has handled these situations well. In his career, in what is characterized as low leverage situations, he has held opposing batters to a .209/.262/.341 batting line. When there is a four run lead in either direction, Sewald has held opposing batters to a .223/.294/.365 batting line. This has permitted him to pitch multiple innings in these situations. In turn, this has allowed the Mets to save their better relievers for higher leverage situations.
This has an immense amount of value to a team, and these are the types of outings which helps a team get to the postseason. This is what Pat Mahomes provided the Mets in 1999 and 2000, Darren Oliver provided in 2006, and Sean Gilmartin provided in 2015. This is what Sewald can be over the remaining 37 games of the season. His doing that frees up Lugo, Diaz, Familia, and Justin Wilson for the higher leverage situations.
All told, Sewald can provide an immense amount of value to the Mets bullpen by eating up those innings and not having Mickey Callaway need to worry about needing to go deeper into the bullpen in these situations. As we have seen this year, this is not a role which is easily filled. Ultimately, Sewald can perform well in situations where others cannot, and as a result, he provides this bullpen and this Mets team with real value.
On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.
I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom Seaver, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric Hanhold, Steve Villines, Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, Hansel Robles, Stephen Nogosek, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Darryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.
Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
Prior to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, there was much debate over who Willie Randolph should give the ball.
It was Steve Trachsel‘s turn in the rotation, but he was terrible in Game 3 and bad in the NLDS. Possibly, it was the result of the microdiscectomy he had in 2005, but he didn’t have in anymore.
Due to the rainouts in the series, Tom Glavine in one day of rest was a non-starter leaving the Mets unable to throw their best (healthy) pitcher in a winner-take-all-game.
As a result, when you broke it all down, the Mets best option was Darren Oliver Perez. That’s right, it was some combination of Darren Oliver, the former starter who was brilliant in the Mets bullpen in 2016, and Oliver Perez, the pitcher who did just enough to win Game 4. With Perez not being nearly as good as he was as his 2002 breakout season, and him starting on three days of rest, this truly was an all hands on deck type of game.
Looking at the game, it made sense to put the Mets bullpen front and center. The Mets had the best and deepest bullpen in the National League. That bullpen led the National League in wins, ERA, and fWAR. It was dominant, and even with the hiccups in Games 2 and 5 in the series, you certainly trusted it much more than you trusted anyone in the rotation.
As we are aware, things turned out much differently than anticipated. With the help of Endy Chavez making the greatest catch you will ever see, Perez would allow just one earned on four hits in six innings of work. He went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and really, he put the Mets in position to win that game.
Ultimately, the Mets would lose the game and as a result the series for two reasons. The first was the Mets offense didn’t deliver. After Endy’s catch, Javier Valentin struck out with the bases loaded, and Endy did not have more magic left for the inning instead flying out. In the ninth, Cliff Floyd struck out, Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.
The second reason was the bullpen, specifically Aaron Heilman. He pitched a scoreless eighth, and he started off the ninth well striking out Edmonds. After the Scott Rolen single, he really was through the dangerous part of the lineup. He should have gotten through that inning unscathed to give the Mets a chance to walk off. Realistically speaking, no one could have anticipated what came next.
In 2006, Heilman did not get hit hard. He yielded just a 4.4% FB/HR ratio, and he had a 0.5 HR/9. He had not given up a home run since July 16th, and that was hit by Phil Nevin. Again, no one could see Yadier Molina‘s homer coming.
That didn’t stop it from coming, but just because it came, it did not mean Randolph and the Mets made the wrong decision trusting Heilman.
Sometimes, you make the right decision, and the wrong thing happens. It is what we saw happen last night with the Athletics.
Like the 2006 Mets, the real strength of that team was the bullpen. In a winner take all game, Bob Melvin put his faith in them. Ultimately, it was two of his best relievers, Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, who failed most. They took a close game and put it well out of reach.
That doesn’t mean he was wrong to trust those arms for one game. It just means the team’s best players didn’t perform, which is the reason the Athletics lost. Really, it was the use of an opener or the bullpenning. It was Rodney and Treinen, two pitchers who were definitively going to pitch in the game even if the Athletics used a traditional starter, who lost the game.
In the end, there is still a debate at the merits of using an opener or bullpenning, but the Athletics losing this game did not settle this debate. Not in the least.
Based upon the people the Mets brought into the organization the past year, it should come as little surprise Vargas was the guy.
First and foremost, there is Omar Minaya. After the Mets lost in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, Omar began looking to address one of the Mets weak points – starting pitching depth.
In what proved to be an unpopular trade, the Mets sent Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens for the 24 year old Vargas. The whole of Vargas’ Mets career amounted to two starts where he went 0-1 with a 12.19 ERA.
Roughly two years later, Vargas was one of 12 players in the ill-fated J.J. Putz trade. When you consider Joe Smith was part of the deal, a Mets team looking to improve their pitching wound up trading the two best pitchers in that deal.
With respect to Vargas, that may not have been entirely anticipated. But that is what happened over his three team nine year post-Putz trade career.
The most recent stop was Kansas City where he played for current Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland, who as it turned out, gave Vargas a ringing endorsement.
Asked about Eiland’s endorsement of Vargas, Sandy says Eiland kept calling him, “the perfect guy for us.”
Sandy references the fact that he’s left handed, has a different approach to pitching than the others, is a veteran & knows what it takes to pitch 200+ innings.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) February 18, 2018
With that, the Mets have made would could be the most predictable signing of the offseason. It also should prove to be a good one.
Likely, the Mets can count on Vargas to last a full season. That’s important considering you can’t expect the same from Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler. Perhaps more importantly, it’s just another arm to the equation.
As of the moment, the Mets have a somewhat incomplete bullpen. Publicly, the Mets are bandying about getting a second left-handed reliever to compete with P.J. Conlon and Matt Purke. However, the real need, and the one Mickey Callaway has discussed – the long reliever.
With Vargas here, either him or Matz could serve in both roles much like Darren Oliver did in 2006.
Really, the possibilities are endless. Same goes for the Mets season if Vargas permits Callaway and Eiland to effectively mix and match to get the most out of this Mets pitching staff.