Jacob deGrom allowed two runs (one earned) through six innings, after which Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Hansel Robles, and Seth Lugo combined to pitch three scoreless innings and strike out six, in Thursday's win against the Nationals.
Robles pitched well Wednesday against the Phillies, which was his first appearance of the season after being promoted from Triple-A to replace the injured Anthony Swarzak. Nevertheless, I panicked when he entered Thursday to start the eighth inning, even with the Mets leading, 8-2.
Forgive me, but it's been a difficult last 18 months with Hansel, so much so that I have very little faith that he can get his career back on track. He looked terrible in spring training, necessitating being left off the Opening Day roster. However, here he is. In a medium-leverage spot Wednesday, he pitched well enough to inspire manager Mickey Callaway to see what Robles could do in a low-leverage spot while going back-to-back days. And though he did let up a double, he struck out three of the four batters he faced and kept the majority of his pitches in the strike zone. So, color me impressed and intrigued.
I'm eager to see how Callaway uses him next time because, if Robles is about to return to being the pitcher he was in 2016, the Mets are set up to have the best bullpen in baseball...
I mean, as it is, their group has the second-best ERA a week in to the season...
The reason I feel this is at least sustainable in the short term is because literally every pitcher is contributing and pitching to what appears to be Callaway's plan.
In levery instance, each pitcher is throwing strike one, they're staying ahead in the count, they're locating their best pitches and not making mistakes, all of which is letting them experiment late in counts to get guys to chase and either swing, miss, or hit a weak out.
It's exactly what every manager and pitching coach dreams about and, at least for right now, Callaway and Dave Eiland have it going on...
I also see six reliable relievers that look to have zero issue with not having defined roles, which is something we're often warned about never being able to be to the case. These guys, however, seem totally fine with what is going on around them.
And, I think a lot of that -- if not all of it -- has to do with what I hear is Callaway and Eiland talking to them at the start of every series and every game about who has the best matchups, how everyone is feeling, and keeping guys in the loop about who may get used when and why. Just as Callaway said he would do, he's using the information not only to make good decisions, but to ease the egos and arms of his pitching staff.
Most important, though, is that it's working. The Mets enter play Friday with their bullpen having not allowed a run in 13 innings. The fact that Callaway and Eiland are doing what they're doing and it's working is certainly helping them to continue doing what they're doing. The true test will be when (either due to poor choices, bad luck or fatigue) things begin to stumble, how will their pitchers respond?
My hunch is these two coaches will have done enough building bonds and credibility during the previous few months to weather a slight storm. And, because I believe the talent is equally good and versatile enough to survive as well, I see no small storm ever becoming a hurricane.
The point is, I believe in this bullpen. It's going to be a strength. And it's going to give Sandy Alderson the option to focus on upgrading other areas of the team if they're winning later this summer.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!