We can and should argue the New York Mets should’ve done more to address the bullpen. That said, they didn’t, and we have to see how it shakes out.
On days like the Spring Training game against the Washington Nationals, you worry. Neither Jeurys Familia nor Dellin Betances was good. With respect to the former, Sandy Alderson was noticeably annoyed with his performance.
Familia walked two in a scoreless and hitless inning. Betances also walked two, but he wasn’t nearly as lucky or effective. Betances allowed four runs on two hits and two walks. He yielded a homer to Ryan Zimmerman, who didn’t play last year due to COVID19 concerns.
Neither pitcher struck out a batter.
For Familia, the walks are especially concerning. In his prime, he walked that fine line, but now that he’s older, he’s been falling off the cliff. Frankly, he’s walking far too many batters to be reliable and effective.
The situation is similar for Betances, but at least with Familia, his velocity is there. While it’s usually not there this early for Betances, it seems more of a fait accompli it’s not returning considering it hasn’t been there for two years now.
To wit, Betances is working to adapt to be a more effective pitcher without the velocity.
For both Familia and Betances, it’s clear they both had a lot to work on after last year. That’s just the thing. They’re still working on things. It’s also just their first Spring outings.
Opening Day is still about a month away giving both pitchers time to improve and hone things. Certainly, they can also work on things in-season.
They may succeed, and they may not. They may prove to be nothing more than middle relief rather than the high leverage relievers they once were.
There’s an important consideration there. No one said they need to pitch the seventh or eighth inning. For that, the Mets already have Trevor May and will be getting Seth Lugo back at some point before that All-Star Break.
Robert Gsellman has shown flashes of brilliance when used judiciously in the pen. Joey Lucchesi profiles as a potential top end reliever, and who knows what Jordan Yamamoto could do there if given the chance. That’s nothing to say of the veterans like Tommy Hunter who are fighting for a job.
The overriding point is the talent is here, and it doesn’t need to be Familia and Betances back to their dominant forms for this bullpen to succeed. What the Mets need is for Jeremy Hefner to get through to these relievers, the front office to provide the coaching staff with useful data, and for Luis Rojas to put them all in a position to succeed.
Overall, it’s just way too sook to freak out about the bullpen. It may still be great. It may also falter. The thing is we don’t know which direction it will go based on one Spring Training game. In fact, we may not really know until a month into the season.
So just calm down, and let’s see how this all shakes out.
Like it always seems to be, the New York Mets entered the offseason with the need to rebuild their bullpen. As the Mets entered Spring Training without Seth Lugo, there seemed to be a renewed emphasis on the need to add more relievers to the bullpen. However, when you break it down, the Mets may not need to actually add another arm.
Typically speaking, we will see the Mets carry a 12 man pitching staff which means seven relievers. Right off the bat, the Mets are set at closer with Edwin Diaz. He will certainly be joined in the bullpen by recent signees Trevor May and Aaron Loup. That trio right there takes care of the Mets closer, the eighth inning, and their LOOGY.
That leaves them having to figure out the other four relievers in the bullpen. Based upon the moves of Brodie Van Wagenen, three of those spots are occupied by Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, and Jeurys Familia. This trio could very well become the core of what might be an excellent bullpen.
As previously detailed, Betances induced very weak contact last season, and he would miss a lot of bats. Looking at Baseball Savant, there was also a lot of promise with Jeurys Familia‘s season as he also induced a lot of weak contact, and he had terrific velocity. What really hampered each of their seasons was a mixture of walks and plain old bad defense.
Betances had a 1.56 GB/FB last year, but despite the weak contact, he yielded a .353 BABIP. Familia didn’t have the same issues with ground balls turning into outs as Betances, but he did see a career worst walk rate come back to bite him. Keep in mind, in only two of the 10 appearances where he didn’t walk a batter did the opposition score off of him.
Both relievers will be helped by the improved infield defense we should see with Francisco Lindor at short. Also, while we may see J.D. Davis start at third, in all likelihood, he should be removed late in games for Luis Guillorme thereby making the Mets defense elite for these groundball pitchers who induce weak contact.
Keep in mind, while Betances and Familia have typically had higher walk numbers, neither had really posted numbers that poor in their careers. Part of that could easily be explained by them trying to regain their prior form in a disjointed offseason. Really, both pitchers needed to hone a number of things, and the pandemic really cost them the opportunity to work with Jeremy Hefner like they needed.
Given a normal offseason and Spring Training, it is reasonable to assume both could be reasonably relied upon to at least easily handle the middle innings. Perhaps, they could eventually be reasonably be able to be relied upon for the seventh and eighth. In fact, we should be able to see them close a game or two here and there.
In terms of Castro, no one throws it harder. Really, that makes him a bit of a wild card not too dissimilar to what Hansel Robles used to be for the Mets. If you can harness him, you have an elite reliever. If you don’t you have an interesting mop up reliever. Either which way, he is out of options, and he is going to get every chance for the Mets to be the team to finally unlock his abilities.
When you add Lugo to these relievers, this bullpen could be the envy of every team in the majors. The question for the Mets is what to do in his absence. In terms of that, the Mets have plenty of options.
Joey Lucchesi profiles as a potential elite reliever. We have seen Robert Gsellman be elite out of the bullpen for stretches. If nothing else, we know he can absorb innings. The same could also be true for Jordan Yamamoto. The Mets also have a number of interesting young relievers to throw at the problem with Jacob Barnes, Yennsy Diaz, Sam McWilliams, Sean Reid-Foley, Drew Smith, Stephen Tarpley, and Daniel Zamora. Of course, there is also Mets fan favorite Jerry Blevins here on a minor league deal.
The moral of the story is the Mets have the talent in the bullpen. The real challenge is going to be for Hefner to work with them to get the most out of them. Then, perhaps the even bigger challenge is for Luis Rojas to deploy them properly. Overall, if Hefner and Rojas are successful, the Mets will get the most out of what is an extremely talented group, and we will begin to wonder why exactly we were so overly concerned about adding a big name reliever in the offseason.
Perhaps, the New York Mets just heard the worst possible news they could’ve heard. Seth Lugo needed elbow surgery, and he may not be able to pitch again until May, which is probably the optimistic view .
Guys ……… it's at least six weeks until Lugo can *throw*. And then probably six or so weeks of "spring" training. That puts him at mid-May. That's a quarter of the season. That is a big chunk of the season.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 13, 2021
Make no mistake here. The Mets need Lugo back as soon as he can get back to being Lugo. That Lugo is the best and most versatile reliever in baseball. That reliever was desperately needed to stabilize this Mets bullpen.
Edwin Diaz is coming off a tremendous bounce-back year. That said, it was still just 26 appearances, and he still managed to blow 40% of his save opportunities. Moreover, he’s developed an every other year pattern with 2021 projected to be the down year.
Jeurys Familia has not been good since returning to the Mets, and based on his FIP, it’ll be difficult to imagine him turning it around in 2021.
Miguel Castro may have a live arm, but he’s yet to harness it. He’s got a very poor career 4.7 BB/9, and even with the strikeout numbers, he only has a 1.59 K/BB, and batters hit .244 against him.
Aaron Loup has traditionally pitched well against left-handed batters, but he’s historically struggled against right-handed batters.
When you break it all down, the only pitcher you can truly have confidence in the Mets bullpen is Trevor May. Part and parcel of that is how the aforementioned relievers will be deployed has now been altered by Lugo’s injury.
Now, this is an opportunity for another pitcher, but they have to grab it.
Drew Smith has tremendous velocity and spin. The same holds true for Yennsy Diaz and Sean Reid-Foley. None of these three have been able to establish themselves yet with the later two having significant control issues. This also applies to Franklyn Kilome.
Robert Gsellman could return to the form we saw of him when he first landed in the bullpen. One of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto could find themselves there pending the results of the fifth starter spot.
There’s also the free agent and trade market as well. Even at this point in the offseason, there are still quality options remaining.
No matter where the Mets look, they’re not finding anyone nearly as good as Lugo. If they can’t, it throws the entire bullpen and pitching staff in disarray. As we’ve seen in years past, bad bullpens can ruin good teams.
These Mets are a good team. They might be a great team. However, with the loss of Lugo, their chances of hitting that ceiling took a massive hit. At the end of the day, there’s just no replacing the best reliever in baseball.
Instead, the Mets have to just hope they have enough quality depth. They need to hope 1-2 pitchers really step up. Mostly, they just need to hope Lugo is able to be Lugo at some point in 2021.
When evaluating what the New York Mets do this offseason, the team has to balance building a competitive 2021 roster with their ability to re-sign players. Part and parcel of that is building a sustained winner and not a typical Wilpon style one and done team.
As noted previously, the Mets have to evaluate their priories when looking to extend Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard. Keeping that quintet is going to be difficult.
That is going to become all the more complicated based on what the Mets continue to do this offseason. Players like Brad Hand and George Springer will be expensive. That affects the Mets ability to spend in 2021 and the ensuing years.
Sure, you can point out the Mets have money coming off the books at the end of the year. It’s a significant amount too with Jeurys Familia ($11.67), Dellin Betances ($6), and Brad Brach ($2) in addition to the aforementioned players.
However, as noted, the Mets have significant players who will require significant money. On top of that, after 2022, key players like Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo are free agents. Exacerbating that is Jacob deGrom having an opt out, and the Mets having a team option on Carlos Carrasco.
You really have to wonder how the Mets are able to keep this going without surpassing the luxury tax threshold. On the other hand, why are people so concerned when the Mets aren’t?
Jared Porter on luxury tax threshold, "No, it's not something we have to have a line in the sand on."
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) January 8, 2021
At some point, everyone became concerned about the luxury tax threshold. Maybe, it was watching the Wilpons operate the Mets for a decade. Maybe, it was the rumors floating around the owners were going to limit the Mets ability to spend as a condition of his buying the team.
Whatever the case, there is only one man who has concern about the Mets spending, and that’s the man cutting the checks. At the end of the day, the only person who truly knows the Mets ability and willingness to exceed the threshold is their owner Steve Cohen.
That’s nothing to say of the expiring CBA. For all the hand wringing about the current constraints, those parameters are going to be readdressed and reset after this offseason. On that front, it makes little to no sense to get over wrought about provisions not set and not really dickered.
At the moment, the only people who should be concerned about the Mets ability and willingness to surpass the luxury tax threshold in 2021 and beyond is the Mets front office. Well, them and the National League East who has to contend with the sudden Mets juggernaut.
For the rest of us, the luxury tax threshold is merely a talking point with only guesses as to the Mets true intentions.
When the New York Mets signed Dellin Betances, the hope was he would be the dominant reliever he was with the New York Yankees. That reliever was the best in all of baseball.
Unfortunately, Betances wasn’t close to that. In 15 appearances, he was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA, 2.057 WHIP, 9.3 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9. He’d also spend nearly a month on the IL.
There’s no sugar coating how bad of a season it was. He never materialized to be the shut down eighth inning reliever he was supposed to be. Forget that. He was terrible and arguably one of the worst in baseball.
When looking at his season, we do need to take a more global view. Remember, he missed almost all of 2019 with a torn ACL. He also dealt with a shoulder problem.
Another significant issue was the 2020 season in and of itself. Pitchers had to ramp it up for Spring Training, and they were getting closer to being Opening Day ready.
They all went from that to essentially shutting it down before having to ramp it back up again. While they did have the ability to throw in some fashion, they didn’t really have the opportunity to work with trainers and coaches.
For a player like Betances, that was especially problematic. He was returning from not one but two injuries, and he really had not pitched in a Major League game since 2018. The disjointed season most likely affected pitchers like Betances all the more.
Taking that into account, you can certainly understand why Betances pitches very poorly. Despite that, there were some overwhelming positives to take from his season.
First and foremost, while Betances did hit the IL, his shoulder and ACL held up. There weren’t any reports of setbacks or issues. By and large, this made this a strong building block year for him.
Going to Baseball Savant, Betances did post some strong metrics. Notably, the exit velocity against him was the lowest in his career. Looking deeper, Betances was among the best in the majors in whiff%, exit velocity, hard hit%, barrel%, and fastball velocity.
That should’ve translated to Betances being filthy and absolutely dominant. As we know, he didn’t.
There are a few reasons why including his losing some spin on his fastball and slider. However, batters were still swinging and missing and couldn’t square it up.
Keep in mind for all his struggles, the only extra base hit he allowed was a double. In fact, opposing batters had a .289 SLG against him. That’s dominant.
In the end, the issue really was the walks. He walked more than a batter per inning. It’s what got him in trouble and led to horrible results.
Last year, in the seven appearances he didn’t walk a batter, he didn’t allow a run. In 10 of the 12 appearances where he walked one batter or fewer, he didn’t allow a run. Again, if batters couldn’t hit him, they couldn’t score against him.
Now, Betances never had sterling control, but it was never this bad. The key for him is to have a healthy and not disjointed offseason which will permit him to regain his mechanics and control. If so, the Mets will have a flat out dominant reliever.
This is why when you break it down, Betances’ 2020 was better than many thought it was. Yes, the final numbers were ugly, but behind those stats, we saw Betances is still capable of dominating.
He is now going to get the offseason to prepare to do it. We saw he still has the stuff. We just need to see him do it again.
Perhaps the biggest name and surprise non-tender was Archie Bradley. After all, Bradley is coming off a great season in limited duty. Bradley was limited both by a shortened season and by a back injury.
In 2020, Bradley made 16 appearances. He was 2-0 with six saves, a 2.95 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9. He also had a 2.59 FIP and a 163 ERA+. If you break it down, it is somewhat ridiculous Bradley would be non-tendered. That goes double when you consider his full career.
From 2017 – 2020, Bradley had a 2.95 ERA, 152 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.197 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9. Those are excellent to elite numbers. However, those numbers only tell part of the story for Bradley.
Bradley broke out with an absurdly good 2017. In that year, Bradley was 3-3 with a 1.73 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. So far, this season has been an anomaly in his career. Over his subsequent two seasons, Bradley had a 3.58 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. When looking at the advanced numbers, his ERA+ dropped from 273 to 122, and his FIP dropped from 2.61 to 3.56.
Essentially, Bradley went from a elite reliever to a very good one. Part of the reason was his 2017 season was very difficult to replicate. There are also factors where his .276 BABIP against and 88.2 LOB% were going to stabilize. We actually did see that happen the subsequent two seasons, and that is one of the reasons why his stats began to return to earth.
Another and perhaps more important reason is Bradley’s stuff has been in decline. In 2017, Bradley averaged 96.3 MPH with his fastball. He’s been gradually losing velocity to the point where he has lost two full MPH off his fastball. He’s also lost spin off of his fastball. He’s similarly lost MPH and spin off of his curveball which is his primary secondary offering.
Looking specifically at that curve, Bradley had very good vertical movement. That was part of the reason why he had a 26.7 Whiff% on the pitch. Again, those numbers have been in decline each and every year to the point where that Whiff% has dropped to 16.7 in 2020. That Whiff% was good in 2019, but that season is an outlier.
With Bradley, you see a pitcher who is losing velocity and spin. As a result, he is becoming more hittable. That is problematic for any pitcher, especially for a reliever.
Now, it is eminently possible Bradley returns to his 2019 form. After all, the 2020 season was unique, and we saw it impacted the way many players were able to train and prepare for the season. With a full offseason to prepare and with his getting further away from his back injury, Bradley could reasonably be expected to gain some of his lost MPH off his fastball.
Still, it is far from a guarantee, and it is notable he was losing MPH and spin off of all of his pitches prior to the 2020 season. This makes Bradley a bit of a gamble, and it may be a relatively expensive one. Looking at the Mets current bullpen, they are really ill suited to go looking for gambles like this.
The Mets already have Dellin Betances who is a gamble with his injury history and his own history of losing velocity and spin. The same goes for Brad Brach and Jeurys Familia. With those pitchers in the bullpen, the Mets need more reliable options much like the one they got when they signed Trevor May.
The team also could use a pitcher like a Brad Hand who could be effective against left-handed hitters. The left-handed reliever is of premium concern when the NL East has hitters like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Freddie Freeman. Certainly, given the Mets heavy left-handed hitting roster, it would behoove them to grab the top left-handed relievers just to keep them away from their division.
All told, Bradley is a good reliever, but he is one who has been in decline. While you may believe he could return to form, this Mets bullpen is not constructed well enough to take on a gamble like that. With that being the case, the Mets should probably look towards one of the better relief options on the market, preferable a left-handed one like Hand.
Could you believe all the things the Mets needed to happen for them to make the postseason actually happened? It literally had a less than 2% chance of happening at one point, but it did happen!
Actually, no, that’s not entirely correct. The Mets making the postseason was contingent on them winning out. The Mets didn’t do that part. In fact, they lost their last three, four of five, and seven of their last 10.
By losing their last three games, they finished in last place in the NL East. To add insult to injury, they got completely blown out in the final game of the season.
While it’s terrible having to watch the Mets lose a game like this, there is solace in the fact this is the last game of the Wilpon era. For all they put this fanbase through for nearly two decades, their lasting memory as majority owners is getting their doors blown off with their team being completely embarrassed.
Yes, the Mets will lose games like this is the future. It’s unavoidable. That said, we’ve just seen the last time the Wilpons get to react to this kind of loss. Actually, that time has already passed. Now, they just have to watch and be powerless to do anything about it.
Now, Mets fans have an owner with actual resources to operate a baseball team. He’s hired someone who knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to show both Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen the door, which will make the Mets infinitely better.
As Brandon Nimmo said before the game, “I’m glad that somebody who is a lifelong Mets fan is going to end up owning the team.” We all feel the same way.
The Wilpons being gone wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Luis Guillorme sports an incredible fu manchu, and he was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and run.
Pete Alonso was also great hitting two homers. It was fun seeing fan favorites perform this way. It’s even better when it leads to a Mets win. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw the Mets lose just like Jeff Wilpon did. Now, (we ,@6$!@)see him go witwell is as
Well, the Mets took two out of three from the Phillies. As a result, the Mets next series actually matters. So there’s that. Here’s some more:
1. This is just the third series the Mets have won all year and the first against a team other than the Miami Marlins.
3. The deGrom start was a tough one because it probably cost him the Cy Young, which will also hinder his Hall of Fame chances.
5. As far as the starting pitching, we haven’t seen much of a tangible impact from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, but we have seen him help relievers with pitch utilization and locations.
6. That’s not to say the bullpen has been good because it hasn’t. However, they came up big in a series when deGrom and Lugo didn’t pitch five innings combined.
7. There’s a lot to unwrap from Lugo’s start including how the Phillies hit four homers off of him and his decreased velocity as a starter. While this bears mentioning, we need to see more before drawing any conclusions.
8. Lugo even being in the rotation is another indication of just how awful a job Brodie Van Wagenen has done and just how much he has stripped the Mets of quality rotation depth.
10. Articles trying to explain why Steve Cohen’s money may not matter and why he won’t spend right away are trying to be a little too cute and are very disingenuous in their premises.
11. Also, Cohen is getting approved because he’s going to be the wealthiest owner in the game, and he bought the Mets for more than any North American sports team has ever sold. People telling you his approval is because of the respect Fred Wilpon has in the game are embarrassing themselves.
12. Wilson Ramos has seemingly struggled more than anyone being separated from his family. It’s a real shame he has dealt with these issues.
13. Its a good thing J.D. Davis had that big game on Wednesday because he’s been basically terrible since August 1 costing the Mets games with his ground balls and glove.
14. Over the last month, Davis is hitting .253/.360/.411, and Jeff McNeil is hitting .360/.442/.584. Naturally, McNeil bats seventh and Davis third. It’s because it’s not about winning, but rather about Van Wagenen.
15. With Davis and Pete Alonso struggling, at some point the uncomfortable conversation needs to happen about how much the juiced ball impacted their 2019 production.
16. Anyone calling Brandon Nimmo a fourth outfielder doesn’t know anything about baseball.
17. With Dellin Betances likely exercising his $6 million player option, and the Mets having to buy out Ramos for $1.5 million and Robinson Chirinos for $2.5, the Wilpons have left a nice $10 million tab for Cohen.
18. The extra postseason spots made sense in a 60 game season, but it will be a disaster going forward. So naturally, Rob Manfred wants it.
19. Looking through the years, under this new proposed format, you’re going to get under .500 teams in the postseason on a routine basis. That’s bad for the sport.
20. The Mets have to play the best baseball they possibly can to even have a chance. Given the matchups against the Braves and Rays, their chances aren’t good, but we’re Mets fans, so we’re going to watch and hold out hope.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
That homer got Robert Gsellman off the hook. It’s a good thing because Gsellman didn’t deserve to lose this one.
After allowing the second batter of the game, Luke Voit, to homer, he turned in his best work since returning to the rotation. After that homer, he allowed just three more hits while walking none and striking out four.
The plan was to have Steven Matz piggyback his start, but Matz left the game after one inning with a shoulder injury and may very well land on the IL.
That meant to the Mets bullpen needed to step up again. It really wasn’t quite up to the task.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 29, 2020
Ramos really had no chance to catch Betances’ wild pitch. With that wild pitch, the Mets wouldn’t have another big come from behind win. Instead, they’d be walk-off losers.
On the bright side, Steve Cohen agreed to buy the Mets . . . again. This time it’s for $200 million cheaper. That should allow him to fix all the mistakes Brodie Van Wagenen made which led to losses like this.
Dominic Smith surprised us all when he took a knee before Wednesday’s game against the Marlins. He then bore his soul for everyone.
His words and actions were not lost on Michael Conforto. After the game, Conforto said, “I didn’t see that he was kneeling, and I told him I wished I had been out there with him. … We support him 100 percent no matter what he chooses to do.”
In those words, Conforto told everyone Smith was his teammate, and he would be there to support him. His hope was Smith knew that. Of course, those words, while important, were just words.
Before yesterday’s cancelled game, Conforto, as the Mets union representative and team leader, talked with Miguel Rojas of the Marlins to get both teams to agree not to play the game.
As we learned, there was pressure from the commissioner’s office to play the game. If it did not come from them, it came from Mets ownership.
Despite being prodded to make a symbolic gesture and still play the game, the players held firm. They took the field, held a 42 second moment of silence as a nod to Jackie Robinson, and then they left the field of play.
Michael Conforto is joined by Robinson Cano, Dellin Betances, and Dom Smith to discuss the team's decision to not play tonight:
"All the players who stand up for the racial injustice, we stand behind them and that's what you saw tonight" pic.twitter.com/GWbhWcbtbP
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
During the press conference, he also spoke about the love they all had for their teammate.
Michael Conforto on Dom Smith's raw emotion:
"When you love a guy like him the way that his teammates do, it's a pretty powerful thing" pic.twitter.com/coyc483qQy
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
This is real leadership.
Conforto didn’t just offer words of support for his teammate, he took action. He then made sure he was there to ensure Smith would not do this alone again.
While not nearly as powerful as Smith’s emotional press conference, it was a powerful moment.
In these moments, Conforto made it clear he’s the real leader of this team. He’s going to do all he can do to support his teammates, and he’s going to stand with them.
Seeing this unfold, and seeing his incredible play in the field, there should be no doubt the Mets should extend Conforto. When they do, he needs to be named Captain as he’s shown he is everything that person is supposed to be.