Paul Sewald

Mets Do Not Need Bullpen Help

As the trade deadline approaches, every team usually states that they need bullpen help, and those that are true contenders usually add an extra arm or two to the bullpen.  For example, back in 1999, one of the biggest strengths for a Mets team fighting for the NL East and the Wild Card was their bullpen.  Armando Benitez had taken over the closer role much earlier than anticipated.  Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook were having excellent seasons.  Pat Mahomes was a revelation as the long man in the bullpen.  Ex-closer John Franco was expected to return form injury to help with the playoff push.  Greg McMichael was having an off year, but he had previously been a valuable bullpen arm in a pennant race from his days with the Atlanta Braves.  On top of that, the Mets had some young promising arms to go to down the stretch with Jason Isringhausen and Octavio Dotel (even if Bobby Valentine thought they were better suited and belonged in the rotation).  Overall, the point being is the Mets did not need bullpen help.

Even with that being the case, a Mets team that was very active during the trade deadline made sure to acquire another arm for the bullpen by sending McMichael and Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  It turns out Billy Taylor was washed up, and he would not even be on the postseason roster thereby forcing the Mets to make do with the already good bullpen pieces they had.  The Mets find themselves in a similar position than the 1999 Mets did.

The Mets bullpen is led to Jeurys Familia who is the best closer in the game. When needed, Familia can pitch two innings to get the big save that the Mets need.  The primary eighth inning set-up man has been Addison Reed, who is only sporting a 2.26 ERA and a 0.912 WHIP.  This duo has only lost one lead that has been given to them this year in 32 attempts.  Behind them is Hansel Robles who has done everything the Mets have needed in the bullpen.  He can come out and bail the Mets out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitch 3.2 terrific innings to save a Mets bullpen from a first inning injury to a starting pitcher.  Jerry Blevins has been an extremely effective LOOGY allowing lefties to hit .210/.269/.310.  By the way, he has been even better against righties limiting them to a .107/.188/.214 batting line.

Behind these pitchers are some very solid options.  There is Jim Henderson, who was great before Terry Collins abused his arm.  Henderson is currently in AAA on a rehab assignment.  Seth Lugo has been absolutely terrific out of the bullpen in his two appearances.  However, it is only two appearances, and there still remains a (remote) chance that he may wind up in the starting rotation with the Matt Harvey injury.  There is Erik Goeddel, who even despite one poor performance this season, still has a career 2.75 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP.  There is still Sean Gilmartin, who was an essential part of the Mets bullpen last year.  He is a starter in AAA, but if the Mets are that desperate for major league relief help that they will swing a trade, they should pull up a known quantity to help the team where he is needed.

If the Mets will consider calling up players from the minors, there are some good options in AAA.  Josh Edgin has a 2.45 ERA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.  Paul Sewald has taken over as the closer, and he has recorded nine saves.  There is always the alluring Josh Smoker, who is having a down year but still sports a mid-nineties fastball.

Finally, in addition to all of these players, there is still Antonio Bastardo, who is going nowhere.  It is doubtful a rebuilding team will want to add him into the mix with his high salary and poor production.  The Mets are stuck with him, and they are going to be stuck with him for the full season, regardless of whether they make another move to add a reliever or not.  In essence, Bastardo is the reason why people mistakenly believe the Mets need bullpen help.  With that in mind, the best thing the Mets can do is to find a way to get Bastardo back on track.  That will help the Mets bullpen more than them adding another reliever.

Overall, the Mets bullpen is in fine shape with four outstanding relievers and plenty of good options behind them.  The Mets do not need a reliever.  They need to fix Bastardo since he’s going to be here whether or not the Mets make a trade.  With that in mind, the Mets should leave the bullpen as is and turn their attention to the teams other needs at the trade deadline.

Happy Pi Day 

In honor of Pi Day, let’s look at all the things to look forward to during the 2016 season:

3.1 – Mike Piazza

This summer Mike Piazza is going into the Hall of Fame as a Met. He’s the first Mets position player to do so. The following weekend, he will also be the first Mets position player to have his number retired. He will forever be remembered for all of his homeruns, especially the homerun after 9/11. More importantly, he will forever be a Met. 

41 – Tom Seaver

Seaver is the greatest Met to ever wear the uniform, and perhaps, the greatest right handed pitcher of all time. He was rightly dubbed “The Franchise.”  With him, he began the aura of the Mets always having good pitching. This year his mantle will be picked up again by a dominant young staff reminiscent of the pitching staffs Seaver was a part of back in his day. 

59 – Antonio Bastardo

Bastardo is one of a few key free agents the Mets added this offseason. Last year, the Mets had bullpen problems forcing them to overuse Jeurys Familia and trade a lot of good young pitching away to build a bullpen around the trade deadline. This year, Bastardo is a key arm in what appears to be a bullpen worthy of holding down the leads handed to them from their dominant starting pitchers. 

26 – Kevin Plawecki

Plawecki had a rough 2015 whether it was because of him being rushed to the majors too soon or him needing sinus surgery. Given Travis d’Arnaud‘s injury history, it is very possible Plawecki is going to get another shot at being the Mets starting catcher next year. At some point, he will be called upon to not only continue his tremendous work as a receiver, but also being a more potent bat to the Mets lineup. 

5 – David Wright

The biggest question mark in the 2015 season is how much David Wright can play and how effective he can be over the course of a 162 game season. Wright is the team leader and Captain, and they’re going to need him. At the end of 2015, he showed he can still hit and be an important part of the Mets. They’re going to need him at some point next year. 

35 – Logan Verrett

After losing Verrett in the Rule 5 draft last year, he’s back with the Mets organization. Last year, he was an important swing man. He was first a bullpen arm and later a spot starter who gave a young pitching staff some rest before the postseason. In 2016, Verrett is likely to serve a similar role regardless of where he starts the year. At some point, the Mets will need him, even if it’s just to get the starters some rest before another postseason run. 

89 – The Closing of a Window

After the Mets lost in the 1988 NLCS, there was no reason to believe that was the end of their window. There were veterans on the team, but there were also prospects behind them and rising stars on the team. There was still the pitching. It’s a stark reminder that when the window is open, you do everything you can in that timespan.  You never know when that window closes. 

79 – Paul Sewald

Sewald is just one of a number of Mets pitching prospects who are chomping at the bit to get called-up to the majors. Sewald has had a 1.83 ERA in his entire minor league career. If he continues pitching this well, he very well might get a call-up in the event there is an open bullpen spot this year. 

32 – Steven Matz

In Matz’s first two career starts, he was incredible on the mound and at the plate. Even after his injuries, he has shown flashes of brilliance. He’s an early leader in the Rookie of the Year race.  He’s primed to become the next great Mets starting pitcher. In 2016, he needs to stay healthy and take that next step. 

38 – Dan Warthen

Warthen and the entire Mets organization have been blessed with amazing pitching. It’s encumbent upon Warthen to not only help each of these pitchers take the next step in their development, but also to help keep them healthy over the course of a full season. 

4 – Wilmer Flores

We end with Flores, who was the last Mets to bat in the 2015 World Series. Flores was the player who cried at the possibility of leaving the Mets to a fan favorite. He has gone from the starting shortstop to a utility/platoon player. The 2016 Mets are a heavy left-hand hitting team. Flores can balance this out in his role as a super sub. 

He’s also the first choice for third base in the event that Wright needs to sit or go on the DL for long stretches of time. He’s the primary backup at every infield position. He’s going to be an extremely important piece for the Mets. 

They are all important actually. As we saw in 2015, a team will have to go deep into their roster at times. However, by building a strong 25 and 40 man roster, as the Mets have now, you give your team the best chance to make it to the postseason. Hopefully, the Mets can come full circle (pi pun) in 2016, and win the World Series. 

So the Mets Don’t Like Sabermetrics?

If you’ve read the book or saw the movie Moneyball, you’ve heard of Sabermetrics. Note, don’t rely on anything in that movie as to what Sabermetrics actually is. In actuality, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of or has an opinion on it. 

Part of the fame of this Mets front office is they were there from the beginning. They seemed to not only understand Sabermetrics, but also how to properly utilize it in roster construction. As an organization, they seem to like their decision makers to be adept at understanding and utilizing Sabermetrics. They don’t seem to want their prospects to share the same enthusiasm. 

The reason I say this is because the Mets did not add Matt Bowman or Paul Sewald to the 40 man roster. Bowman was a starter in AAA. Sewald was a closer in AA. Besides being pitchers left off the 40 man roster, these pitchers have something else in common: they both attempt to use Sabermetrics in their pitching. 

Sewald has said how he specifically uses it. He looks at factors that help improve his FIP. That includes pitching to scouting reports, keeping notes on his pitches, and trying to strikeout the batter, especially when there’s two strikes. He uses every advantage he’s got to get batters out, and he needs to with a 91 MPH fastball. 

Bowman is more interested not in FIP per as, but the future of analyzing defense, which he believes could identify undervalued pitchers on the market. It’s ironic considering he wasn’t added to the 40 man roster. Bowman has such an interest in Sabermetrics that he studied it at Princeton. In addition to defense, he also looks at pitch tracking, the revolutions of his pitches, and how using both can help him keep the ball down. 

While it’s refreshing to see two young pitchers do everything they can to help their game and get to the majors. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t see the progressive thinking is enough. Ultimately, talent is what carries the day. Many will disagree with the choices. The Mets judgment of their own pitching has been very suspect. However, the Mets still need to select the 40 best players to be on the roster, no matter how long they’ll be there

Overall, these pitchers should be credited for helping their careers by using Sabermetrics even if the Mets use of the same has indicated to them that these players weren’t worth protecting from the Rule 5 draft.  If selected, their new organizations will be better for having quality arms who have used Sabermetrics to learn how to pitch.