As the Mets traveled north from Port St. Lucie, their bullpen looked to be a solid unit. New GM Brodie Van Wagenen landed the MLB's saves leader in closer Edwin Diaz and brought back Jeurys Familia to join Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Lefty Justin Wilson was also a crucial free agent pickup.
But this group has not gotten off to the start they hoped for in 2019.
As a whole, though, the seven bullpen arms - that includes Luis Avilan and Tim Peterson as well - own a combined 5.76 ERA to start the new year. Avilan has the worst ERA of the relievers, sitting at 16.20 after allowing six runs in 3.1 innings. Lugo is also struggling with a 8.10 ERA after allowing six earned over 6.2 innings.
Of course, not everyone is having a bad year so far. Wilson owns a 1.59 ERA over 5.2 innings, and Diaz has converted on all his saves attempts (four) and hasn't allowed a run yet.
The Mets' rotation can go deep on any given night (minus Jason Vargas, who let up four runs in relief Tuesday night against the Twins), so when the ball is handed over to the pen, Mets fans shouldn't have to hold their breath when a reliever comes in.
There is a lot of baseball left to play this season, but is there anything the Mets can do to curb this trend before it starts to get out of hand? Here are some in-house and outside options they could explore to shore up their bullpen moving forward.
The Mets have already made one change, as Peterson is headed to Triple-A for Corey Oswalt. There's still a few more to choose from...
1) Tyler Bashlor: The righty came out of the pen 24 times for the Mets last season to the tune of a 4.22 ERA. His first outing in Syracuse this season wasn't good as he allowed three earned on four hits over 0.2 innings. This spring, he owned a 5.06 ERA over eight games as well.
2) Jacob Rhame: He also saw time out of the Mets' bullpen last season, owning a 5.85 ERA over 30 appearances (32.1 innings). In three games in Triple-A this season, he has a 6.75 ERA thus far.
3) Eric Hanhold: The 25-year-old saw only three games (2.1 innings) with the Mets last season, and it led to a 7.71 ERA. In Syracuse this season, though, he has yet to allow a run in 2.1 innings of work
1) Craig Kimbrel: The biggest bullpen name still without a team in 2019 is Kimbrel, and the Mets have already been keeping their tabs on the flamethrower, per SNY's Andy Martino. As Martino points out, though, the issue with Kimbrel is the fact that he would likely want to close for whatever team he signs with, and Diaz is already in that role. Even if he agrees to be the setup man, Kimbrel would want closer money. This offseason, he was seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million, which was way above market.
1) Ken Giles: Once the Astros' lockdown closer, Giles fell off the wagon last season so bad so that Houston was forced to send him down to Triple-A to figure out what went wrong. Now with the Blue Jays, Giles hasn't allowed a run in 5.2 innings thus far. If those numbers continue and he returns to his old self, Toronto could put him on the market considering they don't expect to compete in the AL East. Giles signed a one-yer, $6.3 million contract with the Blue Jays for this season, and is arbitration-eligible next year.
2) Alex Colome: The 30-year-old signed with the White Sox for only one year, which makes him like Giles on a rebuilding squad. Colome could find himself on the trade block if he pitches well in the first half, and the Mets may want to jump on the man with seven years of experience now in the league. He has allowed just one run over four innings in four games this season.