Talk that the Mets might use bullpenning next season to improve their pitching is not realistic. Pulling your starter after facing the opposing lineup just two times can work in a short series. The manager can wear out a path to the mound bringing in a series of relievers so that opposing hitters never face the same pitcher twice. But over a full season, it’s a sure way to burn out a pen. It also allows batters to get more familiar, and therefore have more success, against your relief corp. Especially teams in your own division whom you face eighteen times a year.
Mets Pitching Woes
There’s no argument that the Mets need their pitching to improve for them to have any chance in 2018. They ranked 28th in staff ERA last season with a 5.01 team ERA. Their starters threw the fourth fewest innings. There’s also merit to the idea that batters do better the more they face a particular pitcher. Here’s how the Mets starting pitchers did each time through the order last season:
|1st PA in G||.786|
|2nd PA in G||.791|
|3rd PA in G||.842|
Batters also did better the more they faced Mets relief pitchers too:
|1st PA in G||.767|
|2nd PA in G||1.110|
The problem for the Mets last season is that their starters had problems from the get-go. The first inning was the second worst in terms of OPS for the entire staff. The worst inning, the 8th, was relief pitcher territory anyway, since only Jacob deGrom occasionally lasted that long. Here is the Mets pitching staff’s worst innings by OPS:
Supposedly the Mets are planning to carry eight arms in the bullpen for 2018. If they’re going to pull anyone other than deGrom or Noah Syndergaard after two times through the lineup then they’re going to need more than just Rafael Montero and Hansel Robles as long men.
At best, the Mets would need at least three innings of relief for three out of every five games. If anyone has a bad game it could be a four or even a five inning relief outing. The Mets already have three bullpen positions filled with short men Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
They could try to use whichever two starters didn’t make the starting rotation. That list could include Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz or Zack Wheeler. But it’s not known if any of them can pitch successfully out of the pen. Especially given their injury histories.
What if the long reliever begins to get hit hard? Do you burn another long-relief arm or just write off that ballgame? The Mets will play seventeen games straight without a day off beginning on May 18th. After that stretch, better check the outgoing flights from Las Vegas, because they’ll need to replace those bullpen arms with fresh ones from AAA.
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