After a blistering start during which the Mets bullpen was the best in baseball, they've hit a cold streak that's dropped them to 8th.
There are some reasons to expect improvement, but some players are still underperforming and the trade deadline may offer some appealing upgrades.
Antonio Bastardo has been the biggest culprit, sporting a 5.81 ERA and 1.48 WHIP dating back to May. His whole season has been a mess, with his lowest strikeout rate since his rookie season combined with a spike in homers and a characteristically mediocre walk rate.
The bad news is that his two-year contract means he's going to have to get a lot worse before he's cut loose and he'll almost certainly be hidden in the back end of the bullpen for the duration. The good news is that the sky-high home run rate is likely to drop and with relief pitching as volatile as it is, there's a decent chance he'll bounce back next year.
Jim Henderson, currently rehabbing, has also struggled, as has Erik Goeddel. Along with losing Logan Verrett to the starting rotation, this has seriously compromised the back end of the bullpen, leading to a lot of games that are closer than they should be.
The good news is that the front end had been money, with Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles all sporting ERAs below 3. As a team, their six blown saves is the fewest in the MLB and Familia's active streak of 47 consecutive saves (including 31-for-31 in 2016) ties for fifth longest in major league history.
The key goal going into the trade deadline should be acquiring two solid relievers to help fill out middle innings and take some of the workload off of the big four. There will likely be a few elite arms available, but the Mets should be better off putting most resources towards hitters.
In terms of familiar faces, Carlos Torres could be a low-cost acquisition from the Brewers, and the Diamondbacks should be looking to trade Tyler Clippard, who is having a solid year. Other names to keep an eye on are Marc Rzepczynski (A's) and Jim Johnson (Braves).
Nothing flashy, but they'll fill dependable innings to bridge to the lights-out Reed and Familia and help keep everyone well-rested through the dog days of summer.