Taijuan Walker took the mound looking to build off of his strong start to the season. Instead, he was plagued by bad umpiring and defense.
It got so bad Walker was ejected in the fourth. At that point, he had had enough of getting squeezed. The same could be said of Luis Rojas who was also ejected.
After 3.2 innings Walker had allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and SIX walks. He struck out seven, but again, six walks.
Things should have gone better for Walker even in an abbreviated start. In the third, Walker got the ground ball he needed to get out of the inning. The bad news is Willson Contreras hit it at J.D. Davis.
Willson Contreras rips a ground ball to 3rd base, Eric Sogard scores on a throwing error by J.D. Davis to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead pic.twitter.com/CCKfmEhHdS
— Cubs Highlights (@Cubs_Highlights) April 21, 2021
What should’ve been a routine play was an error the Mets could’ve have. With that, it was 1-0 Cubs.
As bad as that was, there was the all around disaster in the fifth. Kris Bryant hit a ground ball towards Davis, who threw the ball away again.
Kris Bryant was called safe on this 😅 pic.twitter.com/o60iPk5sxI
— Baseball Authority (@BsblAuthority) April 21, 2021
If you’ll notice, Bryant never touched first, and yet, he will still called safe. That right there speaks to the state of umpiring and just how bad Davis was in this game.
It’s notable Davis has the yips, and he can’t get a throw off without double clutching and taking a few steps. For some reason, that was the over exaggerated narrative about Jeff McNeil, but for Davis, it’s ignored.
The good news is the Mets bullpen held up. After Walker was ejected, Robert Gsellman (0.2), Jacob Barnes (2.0), Jeurys Familia (1.0), and Trevor May (1.0) combined to keep the Cubs scoreless. That kept the score at 3-1, and, theoretically, gave the Mets a chance to win.
Once again, the offense was flat out bad. As a team, they were 1-for-6 with RISP leaving 10 men on base. For five innings, they made Jake Arrieta look like the Arrieta of old.
Things were at their worst in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel was looking for the save, and he was wild. He was begging the Mets to take walk after walk after walk.
Two of the first three batters did walk. The second one, Davis struck out on a ball he had zero excuse swinging at:
Davis is in the lineup for his bat lol. That pitch went 56 feet! pic.twitter.com/uzvR94LXjY
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) April 21, 2021
After a Luis Guillorme pinch hit single to load the bases, the Mets seemed to be in great shape to tie or take the lead.
When Lindor grounded out, the game was over. This was easily the most frustrating loss of the season. On the bright side, it’s just one game, and they’re still in first place.
Game Notes: This was the guest time Nimmo did not reach safely this season.
With two rainouts, the series between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies turned from a four game set to a Mets three game sweep. There was a lot to unpack here:
1. Due to rain outs and COVID, the Mets have only played in eight out of a possible 13 games.
2. That’s going to mean a lot of seven inning double headers this year, which in turn means, the Mets are likely to set a record for fewest innings played over a 162 game season.
3. The seven inning doubleheaders are terrible. The runner on second in extras is worse. Having a runner on second in the eighth inning is an abomination.
4. For all the nonsense thrown Marcus Stroman‘s way, he took the ball on one day of rest, and he was dominant. The Mets are very lucky to have him.
6. Lindor’s defense is difference making. The fact he is also a good hitter is what makes him so special.
7. Brandon Nimmo has been PHENOMENAL. He’s hitting an absurd .464/.583/.571, and he’s reached base at least two times in every game the Mets have played.
9. Conforto’s struggles are giving cover for Pete Alonso who has really struggled this year. He’s not hitting balls out the way he did the last two years.
10. That said, he’s had a couple of big RBI, including driving home Lindor in extra innings.
11. For all the flack Luis Rojas gets, he was aware of the pitcher spot extra inning loophole to get Lindor on base. He’s also gotten his outfield defense playing better than expected.
12. Perhaps the most important thing to happen this young season is Aaron Loup getting five outs. That included that huge double play to escape a jam.
14. It’s interesting Robert Gsellman hasn’t gotten into a game yet. Hopefully, he’s not too rusty before the Mets head to Colorado where bullpens are usually taxed.
15. David Peterson‘s start was so impressive. That goes double when the Phillies have owned him in his young career.
16. James McCann had his first big hit with his first Mets homer, but his real impact has been his work behind the plate where he’s done a masterful job handling this pitching staff.
18. You get the sense you’re in for a special season when Jonathan Villar gets the game winning hit in the first end of the doubleheader, and then he does it again in the second half.
20. With the Mets being the only NL East team over .500 and their going to play a bad Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs teams, they’re going to get an opportunity to put an early stranglehold on the division.
Instead, Peterson threw the best game of his young career.
Over six innings, Peterson would limit the Phillies to one run on two hits and no walks. He’d strike out an astonishing 10 batters. The only blemish was a Jean Segura homer in the fifth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
Peterson needed to be this good because Wheeler was fantastic as well. The key with good pitchers like him is to jump on them early before they get in a groove.
Brandon Nimmo, who seemingly can’t make an out anymore, led off the game with a single. Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith followed with a pair of singles to put the Mets up 1-0 without recording an out.
The Mets chances of blowing it wide open early was stymied when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. The bright side was a run scored to make it 2-0.
It was 2-1 heading into the seventh when Luis Rojas tabbed Jeurys Familia. With Miguel Castro and Trevor May realistically unavailable, this was a good spot to see if Familia could grab big innings again.
Familia would walk J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, and Realmuto would go to second on a fielder’s choice. Segura followed with an infield single putting runners at the corners. On the play, Linder tried to pick Realmuto off third to no avail.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
Loup had his best game with the Mets. After getting the inning ending double play in the seventh, he retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the eighth striking out two.
While the Mets bullpen was at work, Joe Girardi got a little greedy with Wheeler pushing him to start the seventh. After retiring Nimmo, Lindor and Smith got back-to-back hits setting up runners at the corners.
After 108 pitches, Girardi finally lifted Wheeler for Sam Coonrod. Coonrod got Alonso out, but Lindor would score on the sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.
The top of the Mets lineup was fantastic tonight. The top three batters combined to go 8-for-14 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI.
The Mets added some more insurance runs in the eighth. Michael Conforto led off the inning by getting hit on the elbow . . . again. Astoundingly, Conforto’s elbow has been hit by four pitches, and he’s gotten three hits with his bat. James McCann made JoJo Romero pay by hitting his first homer as a Met:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
Edwin Diaz came on in a non-save situation in the ninth, and he closed the door on the Mets 5-1 victory. Mets are now the only team in the NL East two games over .500, and they don’t seem like they’re looking back.
Game Notes: Nimmo leads the majors with a .583 OBP. There is rain in the forecast putting tomorrow’s game in jeopardy.
Certainly, the New York Mets have made some truly odd decisions this season. That began their first game of the season where Kevin Pillar batted lead-off, Brandon Nimmo was eighth, and Dominic Smith was left out of the lineup all together. The curious lineup decisions continued with Jeff McNeil batting seventh for a stretch and completely overreacting to Michael Conforto slumping.
While Luis Rojas has received his share of the blame for those decisions, it is important to note he is not the one making out the lineup card. We are well past the days of Casey Stengel playing hunches. No, the lineup now is much more of a collaborative process, and unless you are someone like Terry Francona, your standing and stature to make those decisions alone differs.
To be fair, it’s not just the lineup. There have been other decisions. There was using Aaron Loup when the three batter rule meant he had to face J.T. Realmuto. He has used Trevor May and Miguel Castro quite often so far this season. The latest was letting Marcus Stroman bat in the sixth only to let Jeurys Familia pitch in the seventh.
That last decision was one of several which has caused fans to question his abilities. There has been a growing narrative where Rojas was not ready for this job and is in over his head. Certainly, one of the contributing factors was his being thrust into the job after Carlos Beltran‘s firing. However, when it came to that decision, there was much more happening than most were aware:
You’re incredibly wrong so relax. Luis is a great manager who we will all go to war for. We love him. I was going back out in the 7th…that’s why I hit. The inning ended up taking long and didn’t make sense to go back out after getting cold on the bases. Poo-poo take sir! 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/r8B1RPBMtB
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 14, 2021
When assessing managers, we far too often overlook the fact there is much we don’t know. For example, we don’t understand players have personal conversations with players, and they have to make assessments and decisions based upon those conversations. We really don’t know why some players are unavailable.
There’s also the fact we tend to only judge one or two decisions per game and blow it out of proportion when it comes to assessing the total job. First and foremost, it would seem from Stroman’s tweet, Rojas has the back of everyone in that clubhouse. To a certain extent, that is no surprise with Rojas managing most of these players in the minors, and those players respecting him.
Players certainly respect him when he goes out there arguing with the umpire after Jose Alvarado threw not once but twice at Conforto. More people respect him when he takes ownership of the team’s issues and doesn’t pass the blame to the players. He also accepts the responsibility for the decisions clearly made by the front office.
Another overlooked factor is how much certain players have improved. It’s still early, but we have seen Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo play significantly improved defense. We have also seen him make Dominic Smith passable in left field. Make no mistake, this is significant because the Mets need for each one of these things to happen if the team wants to truly compete this season.
And remember, when assessing Rojas, the Mets have had a simply bizarre start to the season. They didn’t play the first series due to the Nationals getting infected with COVID. They had a suspended game after three batters and a rain out. At one point, they had played five games and had five games postponed. Despite that, he has his team ready to play, and they seem primed to take off.
Overall, Rojas isn’t perfect, but no manager is. He is still growing into the job, and he is learning. Overall, he has a real skill-set to thrive in this job, and he is doing many thing which are helping the Mets win games. This is not a manager in over his head. Rather, this is a manager who knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Mets are better off for having him in the dugout.
After the opening series against the Washington Nationals was canceled due to COVID19, the New York Mets finally played their first series of the season. They should’ve taken the series, but didn’t;
1. That was your typical Jacob deGrom start. He’s dominant. The Mets don’t score. The bullpen blows it.
2. Much was made of deGrom coming out after six. People overlook deGrom being part of and agreeing with the decision. He had a long layoff, and it’s going to be tricky getting everyone through the season.
5. Pete Alonso looks like a man on a mission. He’s completely locked in at the plate, and his defense has never looked better. He could be on the verge of an MVP type season.
6. It was actually surprising to see his ball didn’t go out on Tuesday night. Last year and the year before those balls might’ve been 20 rows deep. Instead, that ball died at the wall. That may be a real sign the ball isn’t traveling like it did in prior years.
7. The Mets were down because the bullpen hasn’t been great so far.
8. Trevor May has struggled in both games, but it was good to see him come into the second game, fight it, and get out of the inning unscathed. That and his taking ownership of his poor performance is an indication he is going to be just fine in New York.
9. The Aaron Loup signing was curious, especially given the three batter rule. We saw just how that can help a team implode. After he plunked Bryce Harper, he was facing J.T. Realmuto. It should come as no surprise that inning got out of control.
10. There were some good signs out of Jeurys Familia and Miguel Castro. Overall, with Edwin Diaz not getting into a game, the Mets best reliever in the series was Joey Lucchesi, who is also their fifth starter.
11. There could be some questions as to how Luis Rojas managed these games, but it is first important to remember he is not the one who fills out the lineup card. Some of his decisions are also very defensible like leaving in Kevin Pillar in the fourth inning of a game where the Mets had deGrom on the mound and had a 2-0 lead.
12. The fact the Mets would not bat Brandon Nimmo atop the lineup is beyond crazy. Even with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, it’s crazy. In fact, Nimmo has been the Mets best hitter against left-handed pitchers the last two years. The second best? Dominic Smith.
13. Dominic Smith isn’t a platoon player, and he shouldn’t be treated as such. He showed that on his first at-bat of the season.
14. Jeff McNeil has hit the ball with real authority so far this season. It was probably a good idea to get him a mental break ahead of coming to New York.
15. On that note, we are likely going to see a number of players miss some unexpected games here and there as they get vaccinated and deal with the side effects. Well, everyone except Davis.
17. Francisco Lindor has been everything as advertised so far this season. His defense has been great. He is giving good at-bats. He was a real leader talking to David Peterson after a rough outing. The Mets are very lucky to have him around for the next decade.
18. The long layoff was probably a factor, but Peterson showed he probably needs more time in Triple-A, which is fine. It would’ve been better to put Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation to start the season. That goes double when the Mets could have skipped the fifth starter, which they are.
19. Michael Conforto struggled with runners on base during this series, so naturally people are going overboard in their reaction. Fact is, Conforto is still a .271/.393/.512 hitter with runners in scoring position in his career. He’s going to be fine, and the Mets should still be pushing to sign him to an extension to make him a Met for life.
20. The Mets were put at a disadvantage not playing the Nationals series, and the Atlanta Braves got to fact that decimated Nationals team. Mets showed some rust, but this is still a very good team. They’re now in the flow of things, and we should look for them to have a good first homestand of the season.d
The numbers weren’t good. Two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk. Put the results aside for a second.
Jeurys Familia looked like he could be in line for a very good season.
Just look deeper than the results. Neither of the two hits were really indicative of how well Familia was pitching, and as an extension of that, neither was the runs against him.
Neither the Adam Haseley single or Rhys Hoskins double were hit all that hard. In fact, the Hoskins double was the second weakest hit ball of the night. Really, no one made good solid contact against Familia. That’s evidenced by the lack of barrels against him.
With any luck, that’s a 1-2-3 inning. Instead, Pete Alonso throws the ball away trying to get Hoskins at second allowing Haseley to score.
What happened next is important. With everything going haywire, and the day after the Mets blew a late lead with a horrendous inning against the Phillies, Familia bore down. He made quick work of Andrew McCutchen striking him out.
Familia then didn’t give Bryce Harper a chance to launch a homer to let the Phillies back into the game. Instead, like a veteran, he tried to get Harper to bite, and when Harper didn’t, he drew a walk.
We would see the epitome of defensive indifference that inning as well. Hoskins was just allowed to walk to third. That’s one of the only reasons why he scored the second run.
After the Harper walk, Familia faced J.T. Realmuto, and he got him to hit the ground ball he needed. Unfortunately, even with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil turning it quickly, the ball just wasn’t hit hard enough to turn two.
Again, we saw the defensive indifference as the Mets just let Realmuto go from first to third undaunted. Familia didn’t let this get to him as he got Didi Gregorius to fly out to end the game.
Breaking it down again, let’s review what we saw from Familia.
First off, Familia has really good stuff hitting 98 MPH with his fastball. For a pitcher with real command problems last year, he only went to three balls to Harper, a batter he was arguably pitching around to get to Realmuto.
We saw him respond to a bad and unlucky start to the inning by striking out McCutchen. Also, no one was able to square him up and make good contact against him.
If we see Familia have good velocity, induce weak contact, get big strikeouts, and stay poised when things around him go haywire, he’s going to have a big year. In the end, that’s the biggest takeaway from his appearance, and really, that’s great news for the Mets.
Despite his having an argument for being the Mets second best starter, with all the injuries, Marcus Stroman got the tab by default. You wouldn’t have known that with how dominant he was.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
In his six innings, the Phillies could only muster three hits. Unfortunately, one of them was a Didi Gregorius solo homer marking the only run Mets starters have allowed over 12.0 innings this season.
One of the reasons Stroman got away with just the one run was his defense. There was one double play turned, and Pete Alonso robbed Gregorius of what should’ve been a game tying extra base hit.
👀 Pete pic.twitter.com/sqTjbfeta2
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
Just like deGrom, Stroman was lifted after 6.0 innings despite only throwing 85 pitches. Unlike deGrom, that move didn’t backfire.
The reason was Phillies reliever Vince Velasquez had a maddening seventh. He faced eight batters in the game (going back to the sixth), and not one batter put a ball in play.
Luis Guillorme led off the seventh, and he’d fall behind quickly 0-2. He battled back in the at-bat, and he drew the first of four walks in the inning.
One of those four walks was to Kevin Pillar who pinch hit for Stroman. After his pinch hitting appearance, Brandon Nimmo came up, and well, his drawing a walk against a pitcher trouble locating is a near lock. After his walk, it was 3-1.
Nimmo and Pillar tacked on another run with a well executed double steal. Michael Conforto then capped off the inning with an RBI double.
With the Mets entering the bottom of the seventh ahead 6-1, you’d assume they’d be in cruise control. It was far from it.
After an Alec Bohm single, Luis Rojas made a very questionable decision. There were two outs, Bryce Harper was up, and Aaron Loup was warmed up. Rojas stuck with Castro, and he was rewarded for it when Castro got Harper to line out to center to end the inning.
In the eighth, Rojas gave Trevor May an opportunity to shake off his first appearance of the season. May was quite shaky allowing two hits and throwing a wild pitch. Still, he’d settle down and get Roman Quinn to end the inning.
Alonso would hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth to expand the Mets lead to 8-2. With that large gap, Rojas went to Jeurys Familia to finish the game.
Haseley led off the ninth with a single, and Hoskins followed with a cue shot double. Alonso went back to get the ball, but his throw trying to get Hoskins was errant allowing Haseley to score. Notably, neither ball was hit particularly hard.
Those two hits against Familia probably had a combined xBA of .120 …. I hate this, but I love baseball.
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) April 7, 2021
In the end, it was an 8-4 win. Stroman was great. Smith and Alonso homered. The offense finally exploded, but man, the Mets bullpen has looked shakier than we suspected it might be.
Maybe this is just the excitement which comes from Opening Day. Certainly, that is amplified by new ownership, the Francisco Lindor extension, and Jacob deGrom taking the mound. However, taking everything into account, this New York Mets team is the best one we have seen since 2015 and probably 2006.
Like most times the Mets are good, they are going to be led by pitching. Their starting staff is great, and when healthy, it is the best in baseball. Part of the reason why is deGrom is still the best pitcher in baseball. Behind him right now is Marcus Stroman. Stroman has made adjustments and added new pitches, and he looks set for a career year. That is really saying something considering he has been a gamer his entire career, and he was the World Baseball Classic MVP.
Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco may be the two most underrated pitchers in baseball. Looking at their FIP, they pitch at or near an ace level. In this rotation, they may be no better than third or fourth starters. It’s not just doing deGrom-Stroman-Syndergaard-Carrasco. This is one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball.
Behind that quartet is Taijuan Walker who was once a top 100 prospect, and he seems poised to take a big step forward after using analytics to help him improve. After Walker, the Mets have David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto, each of whom could be around a three in most rotations. For the Mets, they will eventually be on the outside looking in.
They are all going to be better pitchers because they have the tandem of James McCann and Tomas Nido behind the plate. Both of these players are strong catchers who are excellent pitch framers. Having catchers like that behind the plate make good pitchers even better. When your starting pitching is great and operating at a high level, you are going to win a lot of games.
This is paired with an incredible lineup. They Mets have an embarrassment of riches on that front. Consider Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have each been All-Star lead-off hitters, and they aren’t even the Mets best lead-off hitter. That’s Brandon Nimmo. With that group plus Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, their 1-6 of their lineup can and probably should be hitting in the middle of the order.
Now, this Mets team isn’t perfect. Far from it. The first problem is their bullpen. The good news on that front is between Edwin Diaz and Trevor May, they have the last two innings covered well. The hope is at least one of Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, or Jeurys Familia can figure it out to become that seventh inning reliever. That is at least until Seth Lugo is good to return. When that happens the Mets bullpen will be in great shape.
Another factor there is the Mets have some other interesting options. Sooner or later, Drew Smith will be healthy and ready to rejoin the bullpen. It should also be noted when the Mets have their full rotation, someone like Lucchesi can move down to the bullpen where his churve could be a weapon on par with Lugo’s curveball.
The other issue is the defense. Simply put, having J.D. Davis at third is unacceptable. He can’t remotely field the position. Having Dominic Smith behind him makes the left side defense one of the worst in baseball. To that, they may not be the worst in the division with the Atlanta Braves probably being worse with Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna.
It’s very possible Brandon Nimmo can succeed with positioning in center. After all, he’s had positive OAAs in center most of his career, and he does have the speed for the position. Jeff McNeil seems more comfortable at second, and while Alonso has his defensive issues, he is quite adept and receiving throws around first.
While the lineup has serious defensive issues, the bench does not. Luis Guillorme is a Gold Glove caliber defender. Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar are also quite good. With the lead, we can and should see Luis Rojas run all three out with Smith moving to first base. When that happens, the Mets defensive alignment turns from questionable to really strong.
Therein lies the key. Aside from health, Rojas is going to be the biggest key to this Mets season. He is going to need a deft touch as to when to utilize his defensive replacements. He and Jeremy Hefner are also going to have to get their rotation healthy through the season, which is all the more challenging because of the shortened season last year. They are also going to have to find the right mix in the bullpen while making sure they don’t overuse their best relievers.
Right now, the Mets have the right mix to have a great season. They also have an owner willing to invest in the team, and they have Sandy Alderson in charge, who we know will not be shy making a key trade or two to improve this Mets roster.
Looking at the Braves, their pitching has durability issues, and their defensive issues may be worse than the Mets. The Phillies don’t have the starting pitching, and their bullpen was a disaster last year. The Marlins are young and not deep. The Nationals still don’t know what they are going at key positions on the field.
Taking everything into account, the Mets are the best team in the National League East. If Rojas is up to the task, and there is every reason to believe he will be, the Mets are well poised to return to the postseason again and let their pitching take them back to the World Series.
After sifting through all the options, you eventually come to Miguel Castro. With Castro, the Mets may have the key to the entire bullpen.
Castro, 25, has been a mediocre reliever in his career as evidenced by his 104 career ERA+. However, that is mostly due to his control issues.
According to Baseball Savant, Castro has elite velocity throwing 98+ MPH. He generates good spin, and, at least in 2020, that led to a lot of swings and misses. That’s also evidenced by his 13.9 K/9, which is nearly double his career 7.4 mark.
The issue for Castro is he just can’t control anything consistently. He has a career 4.7 BB/9, and he hasn’t had a season better than 3.1. His K/BB is a woeful 1.59, and it hasn’t been better than 2.40 over the course of a full season.
It’s not just the walks. Castro gets hit extremely hard. Essentially, Castro puts himself at a disadvantage with his control, which leads to walks and extra base hits. If he can truly harness it, Castro can emerge as dominant a reliever as there is in baseball.
Miguel Castro, Wicked Slider. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/tD2YFyott0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 24, 2021
On that note, the Mets have helped him and their entire pitching staff. James McCann has emerged as an excellent pitch framer. Tomas Nido is also strong in that department. As we have seen in Spring Training, this has helped Castro not only rack up the strikeouts but also limit walks.
That should help him make quicker work of batters. It should also give him more confidence in attacking hitters. It’s been looking good so far in Spring Training.
In 6.1 innings, he has allowed just two hits while walking just one. He’s also struck out eight batters. Essentially, it’s been difficult for batters to make real good contact against him, and that’s for the batters who can make contact.
If he carries that into the season, Castro can stake a claim as the Mets top reliever. Better yet, between him, May, and Diaz, it’s a six inning game. And, that’s before Lugo returns.
If Castro reverts back to what he’s always been, well, the Mets bullpen is in trouble. That’ll leave Diaz and May as the only true reliable late innings relievers. After them, who knows?
That’s how important Castro is to this team. If he falters, the Mets bullpen is in bad shape. It’ll be a bunch of used to be greats and a group of pitchers hoping someone can break out.
That’s what’s at stake. Castro can single-handedly swing the fortunes of the Mets bullpen. It can be great or less than mediocre depending on Castro’s development. That makes him pivotal to what the Mets want to accomplish this year.
For the Mets sake, they need Castro to be as dominant as he was in the Spring. They need him to be the guy whose light out stuff can shut the door. They need it from him because the Plan B in this Mets organization isn’t there yet or is hurt right now.
The New York Mets bullpen has been through for a loop with the injury to Seth Lugo to start the season. Things have grown increasingly complicated by diminished velocity of Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances. With all that said, the bullpen has talent, and there are many spots accounted for already.
Guaranteed – Miguel Castro, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Aaron Loup, Trevor May
Obviously, Diaz is going to be the closer coming off of a strong 2020 season. May is going to figure into the equation as a late inning reliever, and Loup was brought on to be the LOOGY. That’s the easy part.
Castro is out of options, and it is very likely he would be picked up off waivers if the Mets tried to send him down. Fortunately, that does not seem to be an issue with Castro having a great Spring striking out four in 4.0 scoreless and hitless innings.
After him, with Familia seemingly getting his elite level stuff back, he is a lock to make the bullpen. If nothing else, he can pitch the middle innings while the Mets hope Jeremy Hefner gets him back to his dominant form.
Bubble – Dellin Betances, Robert Gsellman, Drew Smith, Daniel Zamora
The 13 pitcher roster rule has been suspended for the 2021 season, but that may be a good general construct. Considering a five man rotation with the aforementioned five guaranteed spots, that leaves three remaining spots.
Given his salary and history of building up his velocity in-season, it is likely Betances makes the Opening Day roster. That leaves two spots available in the bullpen. Given the performances this Spring, that is going to be a difficult decision.
Gsellman has been a mainstay in the bullpen over the last few seasons and based on seniority he gets the call. Notably with him, the Mets did have the option to stretch him out as a starter, but they opted not to do that this spring with Gsellman only throwing 4.0 innings over three appearances.
Smith was the one reliever from the 2017 trade deadline debacle who has proven he could pitch in the majors. So far, he looks good, and the Mets are going to have to go out of their way to try to keep a pitcher with three scoreless appearances with no walks and three strikeouts off of the roster.
Finally, there is Zamora who probably presents the Mets best option to carry two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen. He has been a little wild with two walks over 3.2 innings, but he has also struck out three batters. That is typical for Zamora over the last few years.
Fifth Starter Competition – Joey Lucchesi, David Peterson, Jordan Yamamoto
The injury to Carlos Carrasco certainly changed the complexity of the fifth starter battle. With his injury, that opened up two spots instead of one. Given the nature of the injury, the Mets could feel more comfortable putting Peterson in the Opening Day rotation as the fear of having to send him down at one point isn’t as strong.
If Peterson were to make the rotation, the Mets could put one or both of Lucchesi or Yamamoto in the bullpen. Both pitchers have been great this Spring, and they have both more than made the case they deserve to be on the Opening Day roster in some way, shape, or form.
Outside Looking In – Jerry Blevins, Tommy Hunter, Arodys Vizcaino
Blevins probably has a much better chance than this given his curveball looking great. However, he has only appeared in two games walking two and striking out three. While this arguably puts him ahead of Zamora, especially with his track record, adding Blevins would require the Mets to make a roster move.
With respect to Hunter and Vizcaino, they may well both prove to have an impact on the Mets in 2021. That said, neither quite seem ready to pitch Opening Day at the moment. That goes double for Vizcaino who has only made one apperance so far.
Wild Card – Mike Montgomery, Corey Oswalt
With Carrasco suffering an injury, the Mets are said to begin stretching out Montgomery. That would seemingly be an indication they are looking for him to begin the season in Syracuse instead of Flushing. Still, it is hard to overlook his ability to be another lefty in the bullpen and a pitcher who can give you multiple innings. That said, Lucceshi could offer that himself.
Oswalt has had a very good Spring Training with Luis Rojas being very impressed. His velocity is way up, and he has looked quite strong. In fact, we probably shouldn’t completely rule him out in the fifth stater competition. If it is about competition, Oswalt has a strong case to make the Opening Day roster. That said, the fact it’ll require a 40 man move serves as a significant impediment.
Opening Day Bullpen
Joining the aforementioned group of Castro, Diaz, Familia, Loup, and May will very likely include Betances giving the Mets two more spots to figure out. With Lucchesi and Yamamoto now poised to start the season in the rotation, it would seem the final two spots can go to pitchers who are strictly relievers and not converted starters.
At the moment, it looks like one of those two spots should go to Smith. It’s possible the last spot goes to Gsellman due to his ability to give the Mets an extra inning here or there, but it would seem his spot is about as tenuous as Betances’ is right now. Overall, there are two weeks to go and a lot can happen. It will be very interesting to see where things go from here.