With the Mets trailing the Braves, 5-3, in the seventh inning on Monday night, Jeurys Familia trotted in from the bullpen to try to hold Atlanta right there. He failed. Drew Gagnon came in to try to clean up Familia's mess. He failed.
A 5-3 deficit became a 9-3 deficit and eventually a 12-3 loss.
And so it goes for a Mets bullpen that is the main reason why the team is staring at the possibility of another lost season right now instead of being in the thick of a playoff race.
After the game, Mickey Callaway didn't offer up any platitudes. Instead, he had strong words for the unit that continues to fail.
"We just stunk," Callaway said. "Again. We weren't good. We have got to recalibrate what we are doing and do the job better, plain and simple. ... When one guy fails at something, the next guy has got to step up in his stead and get the job done and we're not doing it. We're gonna keep on running 'em out there until they do (succeed). Or we're gonna have to get some new ones."
The Mets' bullpen ERA is approaching 6.00. And prior to Monday night, the bullpen was the main reason the team had lost three of their last four games -- and nearly blew the one game during that span that they won.
- Edwin Diaz, in part hindered by having to pitch through a downpour, blew a 4-2 ninth inning lead on Thursday night before the game was suspended. The Mets, with Diaz allowing a scratch run in the 10th inning, lost the next day.
- On Friday night, the Mets rallied late only to see Familia turn a 5-4 lead into an 8-5 deficit.
- On Sunday, Chris Flexen (yes, Chris Flexen) entered a tie game in the eighth inning and allowed a game-deciding homer to Paul DeJong.
Because of the failures of the bullpen, Callaway is often extending his starting pitchers to roughly 110 or 115 pitches. But as soon as they're out of the game, things almost always get messy.
As far as any "new ones" the Mets could turn to, there are a few solid options -- some who could help immediately and some others that might not be able to help until later this summer.
Of those who can help immediately, Stephen Nogosek -- one of the prospects the Mets acquired from the Red Sox in the 2017 Addison Reed trade -- comes to mind.
The 24-year-old has a 0.57 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 31.2 innings (19 games) this season with Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse.
Of those who can help a little later this season, the one with the higest-upside is probably Ryley Gilliam, who has true late-inning potential.
Until they call on reinforcements, though, the Mets will hope to tread water or even succeed with a bullpen that has far too often entered games this season with a can of gasoline and a match in tow.