Matt Harvey has averaged seven innings per start and Jon Niese has average 5 2/3 innings this season, but the rest of the rotation has averaged just above 4 2/3 innings per start this season.
The Mets bullpen has pitched to a 5.28 ERA, the second worst in baseball. The rotation without Matt Harvey and Jon Niese has pitched to a 5.43 ERA.
I completely agree with Collins on this one. As I wrote last weekend, Yes, the bullpen has mostly sucked and it seems like everyday brings a new problem to the relief corps. But if they're being asked to pitch 4 1/3 innings three out of every five games, it's unrealistic to expect any bullpen to perform well. Now, that doesn't excuse poor execution and poor pitching, and the bullpen is certainly accountable for that. But the bullpen has been fine when it's been used properly in shorter stints - that's the way every bullpen is designed. Yes, the bullpen has to perform on days when they're asked to provide the length of a game. But because the rotation has been mostly ineffective so far this year, too often situational pitchers are asked to pitch to their weakness as a result of having to pitch in extended outings.
They must begin to get more length from the starting rotation to not only preserve the bullpen, but to get more consistency out of them and protect them from pitching to their weaknesses in these longer outings.