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.
So, the Mets didn’t get Trevor Bauer. Instead, Bauer went to his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers for what might’ve been less money. Despite Bauer really not being better than the Mets fifth best starter, the over the top criticism started:
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) February 5, 2021
Welcome back, @Mets.
— Brian Monzo (@BMonzoRadio) February 5, 2021
This is just scratching the surface of what we find at the bottom of the barrel. For their sake, you hope this is just schtick because these are purely horrid opinions.
Yes, we all know the Mets didn’t get Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or George Springer. Instead, they got better players and a much deeper roster. In fact, just look at who they signed/acquired so far this offseason:
- Francisco Lindor
- Carlos Carrasco
- Marcus Stroman
- James McCann
- Trevor May
- Sam McWilliams
- Aaron Loup
- Joey Lucchesi
- Jordan Yamamoto
We’ve also just learned with the Bauer bidding the Mets have at least $40 million they can invest in the 2021 team. It can also be used to extend players like Michael Conforto, Lindor, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard.
If someone can take a look at that and what the Mets can still do, and say to you this is the same old Wilpon run Mets, they’re either lying, trying to get attention, think you’re gullible, have no idea what they’re talking about, or some mixture of these.
Make no mistake, this has been a phenomenal offseason. Yes, we can quibble with a move or two, but in the end, calling this anything but a success is dumb. Really, the people pushing these narratives really know better.
Well, at least they should. They should because it’s absurd to think adding a top five player in the game on Lindor on top of everything else they did is disappointing or a failure. It’s really beyond absurd.
This has been nothing short of a great offseason. Arguably, it’s among if not the best the Mets have ever had.
This wasn’t the best week for the New New York Mets regime. Jared Porter’s text messages surfaced, and he had to be fired.
George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Brad Hand signed with the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees obtained Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates without having to part with a huge prospect cost.
Believe it or not, these has actually caused some anxiety and consternation amongst Mets fans.
Bauer or Bust for the Mets
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) January 25, 2021
Brutal…Mets needed to sign him https://t.co/oRIsNtgBZV
— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) January 25, 2021
Seeing Mets fans beginning to lose their minds, it’s clear they’re forgetting just how vastly improved this Mets team is.
After all, the Mets obtained Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, in one fell swoop the Mets got the best player and pitcher any team will obtain this offseason.
Keep in mind, many thought the 2020 Mets were a postseason team, and this team has made major upgrades:
- SP Rick Porcello -> Carlos Carrasco
- SP Michael Wacha -> Marcus Stroman
- RP Jared Hughes -> Trevor May
- C Wilson Ramos -> James McCann
- Andres Gimenez/Amed Rosario -> Francisco Lindor
Also, for the all the claims the Mets aren’t spending, people are ignoring just how much the Mets have already invested in the 2021 team. To date, the Mets have already added $61.3 million to the payroll.
Are people going to claim the Mets are being cheap when they’ve added what amounts to the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll already? Consider that’s before the Mets are even done.
At the time no one say the Lindor trade happening. It went from rumored to confirmed in about an hour. Who knows what else is on the horizon.
Before jumping the gun and lambasting this front office like it’s one which has been run by the Wilpons, look at what they’re already done. Take time to realize they’re not done building this team.
There may come a time to criticize them, but it’s not today. It’s not when the Blue Jays gave Springer a way over the top contract, the Nationals had a closer job to offer the Mets didn’t, and the Yankees rolled the dice on a pitcher who has had two Tommy John surgeries.
Things have already improved immensely under Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, and they will continue to get better.
The year 2020 was hard on us all, but there were some truly outstanding and unexpected uplifting moments scattered throughout the year. In no particular order here were some of the best moments for the New York Mets in 2020:
1. Steve Cohen purchases the Mets ending the Wilpons reign.
2. Dominic Smith finds his voice and that next level in his game.
3. Michael Conforto emerged as a real leader and showed he’s the star we all hoped he’d be.
4. While not winning the Cy Young, Jacob deGrom continued to prove he’s the best pitcher in the game.
5. Yoenis Cespedes gave us one last thrill with an Opening Day game winning homer.
6. Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant form.
7. Amed Rosario hit a walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium to beat the New York Yankees.
9. Mets were once again allowed to wear the first responders caps.
10. Sandy Alderson returned restoring credibility to the franchise and was given the opportunity to win a World Series with the Mets.
11. Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer to return to the Mets.
13. Pete Alonso proved his rookie year was no fluke putting himself on what would’ve been a 42 home run pace.
14. Although in a circuitous route, Luis Rojas got the manager job he earned and did enough to earn at least a second season at the helm.
15. Luis Guillorme was great with the glove and better than we ever anticipated he’d be at the plate.
16. Brandon Nimmo proved his neck problems were no more while remaining an on-base machine.
17. Rick Porcello got to live out his dream by pitching for the same Mets team he loved as a kid.
18. The 1986 Mets were dubbed the best team ever.
19. Alonso honored the greatest Met ever by hitting a walk-off homer the first game the Mets played after Tom Seaver passed.
20. It was only 60 games and the Mets finished in last place, but we got to see Mets baseball. For at least those 3+ hours a day, we felt normal.
If you’re reading this now, chances are you went through a lot this year. The good news is you’re reading this meaning you’ve survived the year and can have hope for a better 2021.
God willing, that 2021 will be our best year ever, and we will see a Mets World Series title.
Last year, the New York Mets shocked everyone with a surprise Christmas gift. While we awaited coal, we instead found Dellin Betances under our Christmas tree.
This year, Christmas came early. It came when Steve Cohen bought the Mets. It has been a relative 12 Days of Christmas since with Sandy Alderson, Marcus Stroman, Trevor May, Jared Porter, James McCann, and Zack Scott.
While we hope to wake up Christmas morning with Stevie Claus having left a George Springer under the tree, we already have something better. Mets fans have legitimate hope for the future.
We only have hope for Springer because of the current ownership and front office. Players want to be Mets, and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve long awaited this day, and it has been better than we could’ve imagined. And, it’s going to get better than that.
So, as you put your head down on your pillow as visions of Home Run Apples dance in your head, just know you’re going to wake up to a much better Mets organization you’ve seen in over a decade. That’s present enough.
Merry Christmas and Let’s Go Mets!
One of the WFAN shows inquired whether Mets fans were starting to “feel anxious.” With all due respect, there’s no reason for any Mets fan to feel this way.
The team has an offer out to James McCann. So far, he has not signed with the Mets, but then again, he hasn’t agreed to terms with anyone. In the event McCann does the unexpected and signs with another team, J.T. Realmuto is still a free agent.
In addition to McCann and Realmuto, the following players remain on the free agent market:
There are many, many more players past that as none of the big ticket free agents have signed. On that note, the Mets have already had a great start to free agency by already bringing Marcus Stroman and Trevor May aboard.
In addition to the free agent market, we haven’t seen the main targets get traded. Those players include but aren’t limited to the following:
There are many more players available beyond that group. Much like the free agents, we have yet to see that blockbuster trade happen. So long as all of these players are available and there remains a multitude of options, there is absolutely no reason to feel anxious.
Remember, these are not the same old Mets. The Wilpons are gone and have been replaced by Steve Cohen. The Mets have money and will not have Jeff Wilpon interfering with Sandy Alderson running a competent organization.
Mets fans just need to relax and wait and see what the team will do this offseason. Based upon how it’s started and the resources available, the only anxiousness Mets fans will likely feel is for the season to come as soon as possible.
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.
With the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets, this was an organization in desperate need for pitching. On that front, the Mets under Sandy Alderson’s competent leadership, the team is off to a great start.
Yes, Stroman is that. From 2014-2019, Stroman is in the top 30 in WAR and top 40 in FIP. There’s other ways to quantify, but this firmly establishes him as a clear cut number two.
Stroman is only part of the solution. Beyond him, the Mets still need to build the rest of their pitching staff. On that note, the Mets just signed Trevor May. Simply put, that was a great move.
May has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Over the last three years, he ranks 12th among all relievers in K% and 13th in K/BB%. His 3.24 WPA ranks 22nd among relievers in this time frame.
Over that time frame, May is 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9. He also has a 3.56 FIP and 140 ERA+.
This is a process helped along by his working with Jeremy Hefner. The two worked well together in Minnesota, and they promise to do so again in New York.
This is the type of reliever you can plug into the eighth inning in front of Edwin Diaz. With those two innings fully accounted for, Seth Lugo can be better unleashed as the weapon he can be out of the bullpen.
This singular signing moves the Mets bullpen from giant question mark towards solid to reliable. This is exactly how to start building your team.
That’s an important note too. Unlike prior years with the Wilpons, this is the start, not the finish. Typically, May would be the coda to the Mets free agent shopping, not the salvo.
Right now, the Mets have Stroman and May. That significantly improves the 2021 roster. It’s just a start, but it’s a fantastic one at that. Seeing how Alderson has begun, we should be excited for the next move.