Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Before we throw too many compliments around, let's see how this revamped Mets' bullpen performs in the cauldron of the regular season for Brodie Van Wagenen's "Come get us" Mets.
Relief pitchers are, after all, a famously combustible lot that can experience dips and surges in performance from year to year.
But the Mets' relief corps is, on paper, at least, much deeper this winter and the addition Friday of lefty Justin Wilson only bulks up a unit that mostly betrayed the club last year, even as Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo emerged as bullpen assets.
"Much improved," is how one opposing scout evaluated the Mets' new pen. "They have done a good job."
Of course, since the Mets don't have much rotation depth beyond the jewels of the club - Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, et al - they should not stop adding relievers.
With a slow-moving winter market, there are still relief arms out there and if something makes sense again, the Mets should buy another one. Here's why: Any injury in the rotation likely means Lugo will come out of the bullpen to start, weakening relief. Teams always need more than five starters to get through a season - 12 pitchers started games for the Mets last year.
At a time in baseball when bullpens are more important than ever, the Mets had a 4.96 relief ERA last season, 28th out of the 30 teams. The average bullpen ERA across the majors was 4.08. Opposing batters hit .261 against Met relievers (26th), had an OPS of .776 (26th) and hit 82 homers, fifth-most in the game.
Injuries and the trade of Jeurys Familia perhaps affected the pen last year, but it needed help. Now maybe the Mets have added enough relief that one of the primary storylines of their season won't be about deGrom coming out another dynamic start only to see the bullpen crumble.
You know, like last year.
This winter, the Mets made a big relief splash by acquiring closer Edwin Diaz, who had an All-Star 2018 season in Seattle, in the same trade that brought infielder Robinson Cano. Diaz had 57 saves and a 1.96 ERA for the Mariners last year.
They also re-acquired Familia as a setup man and are banking on Lugo and Gsellman as relievers. Wilson gives them a lefty with strikeout stuff and they have two other lefty options as well in Daniel Zamora, who was impressive in a short stint last year, and Luis Avilan. Avilan, a non-roster invitee to spring camp, is someone the Mets think has potential.
Youthful depth such as Drew Smith, Eric Hanhold and Tyler Bashlor doubtless will come into play in 2019, too. And those who work for the Mets say Van Wagenen is always trying to get better, a mindset that figures to go through spring camp, too. So if the winter market continues to be a logjam, perhaps there's another relief arm the Mets can bring in.