The Mets bullpen has underperformed this season, pitching to a 4.56 ERA that ranks 24th in MLB, as well as walk and home run rates that place them in the bottom third of the league. Behind those numbers, though, are two very different seasons.
The first half Mets bullpen was one of the worst in the game -- 27th in ERA and dead last in WHIP. They had blown nearly half of their save opportunities and walked over 10% of the batters they faced. Since the All-Star break, though, they have largely righted the ship, with an ERA in the top 10 and a WHIP around the middle of the pack.
The Mets bullpen is still quite shallow and needs plenty of revamping over the offseason if the team hopes to compete in 2018, but a few notable names have been making the most of their opportunity. Here are some arms to watch over the rest of the season.
A big-league reliever with closer experience, Ramos was brought in with the expectation that he will be a lock for late-inning relief in 2018. Luckily for the Mets, he has lived up to expectations and his 3.00 ERA since becoming a Met has helped stabilize a bullpen reeling from the loss of Addison Reed.
Ramos still walks more batters than you want to see (nearly five per nine innings, in line with his career mark), but his strikeout rate is excellent and helps limit his total baserunners. If he can lower his home run rate -- currently double his career rate -- he could be a steal.
Bradford has put up a 2.78 ERA in the second half and has been one of the Mets' top relievers all year. He has thrived in large part by keeping the ball on the ground -- he has allowed only two home runs all year, and his 56 percent ground ball rate is well above average at a time when hitters are doing everything they can to elevate the ball.
Bradford's 26 2/3 innings are still a very small sample, but he has put up excellent numbers in the minors (outside of hitter-happy Las Vegas). And the ability to limit homers is a huge boon in today's game. The team can option him to the minors next year, which may cost him if there's a roster crunch, but he'll be a contributor going forward.
It has been the tale of two seasons for Josh Smoker, who had an awful 7.45 ERA in 29 innings in the first half, before being placed on the DL with a shoulder strain following an 81-pitch marathon. Since his return in July, though, he has looked significantly better, with a 3.00 ERA over 21.0 innings and a strikeout rate of nearly 10 batters per nine innings.
As a lefty Smoker, he holds added value, and he has also shown the ability to pitch to right-handed hitters. The Mets will absolutely want to bring in more depth from the left side, but Smoker is placing himself in a great position to compete for the second lefty spot next year to complement Jerry Blevins.
Though he's seen limited action since arriving from the Dodgers in the Curtis Granderson trade, everything Rhame has shown thus far has been impressive. He had scoreless outings in his first two big league appearances, and allowed one run on Tuesday nithg against the Cubs. He's coming off of excellent showings in the minors, where he struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings with good control.
Still just 24 years old, Rhame will need to continue to get good results with his explosive fastball to earn a roster spot next year, but he has a high ceiling and could be a reliable back end of the bullpen for a long time.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring