"We ran into some of that in spring training,” Collins said about his bullpen’s struggles. "If you’re going to pitch here, you’ve got to be able to throw strikes, and you can’t walk guys.”
Carlos Torres - who walked only 27 batters in 86 innings last year - never landed a strike against Nate McClouth, the only batter he faced.
“I was trying to overthrow the ball,” Torres said. “That’s why the ball was elevated, and I missed those spots.”
Scott Rice followed Torres and walked Denard Span on four pitches to allow the tying run to score. Rice walked just 10 left-handed hitters all of 2013.
“I just didn’t get the job done, hands down,” Rice said. “That’s the bottom line."
Jeurys Familia and John Lannan combined to allow four earned runs in the 10th inning. Lannan later said he expects to become more comfortable pitching in relief as the season moves on.
Bobby Parnell blew the save by allowing a game-tying double to Span in the ninth inning, moments after Juan Lagares gave the Mets the lead with a home run a half inning earlier. Unfortunately, the Mets lost Parnell to an elbow injury on Tuesday, which could require surgery.
The loss of Parnell leaves a gaping hole in the back-end of an already questionable bullpen. Jose Valverde will likely take over for Parnell as closer, which may be a good thing considering how he looked during camp and on Opening Day. The team spent much of the winter looking for fill-in closers in case Parnell hit a stumbling block, and it looks like they'll be cashing in on that insurance with Valverde...
Parnell's situation exposes the lack of consistent, stable experience in their bullpen, which was all the more evident yesterday. The team's relievers looked weak at the end of last season and nothing substantial was done to address it this past winter. It’s a piecemeal operation, made up of talented, but unproven young arms, a few reclamation projects and one guy pitching in a totally unfamiliar role. It’s hard to be successful and consistent with so many issues with so many pitchers.
Again, Collins is being asked to manage a staff of relievers that leave a lot to be desired. This is not meant to serve as a complete defense of his choices, which can often be questionable, however with this bullpen in particular, he might have failed Monday even if made all the correct decisions. He can't make Torres or Rice throw strikes and he can't magically give Parnell an extra five miles per hour on his fastball.
Sure, bullpens are crapshoots. However, having a more experience in these specific roles might have at least saved them from the situations that faced Collins and his staff late in Monday's game, not to mention similar situations that are bound to come up throughout the year.