As Spring Training wears on, the pieces of the Mets roster are beginning to fall into place. The bullpen -- a long time thorn in the team's side -- has a strong foundation emerging, and there are several relievers looking to snag a spot for Opening Day.
The back-end of the bullpen is set, and has the potential to be strong. Jeurys Familia is solid so far this spring, and looks to be fully recovered from last season's surgery. A.J. Ramos has also come out strong, and should bring a much-needed consistency that the Mets have often lacked. The newest acquisition, Anthony Swarzak, has seen limited action due to an early calf strain, but should be seeing action this weekend. And Jerry Blevins is looking to continue his stretch as one of the top lefty relievers in the game.
This core quartet leaves either three or four spots for a bevy of competitors to vie for, depending on how many bench players the Mets intend to carry. Paul Sewald, who pitched better last year than his final line indicated, is at the front of the pack currently, having given up only one run this spring over four appearances. He doesn't throw hard, but his sidearm delivery offers a nice complement to the other fireballers on the staff.
Another contender is Hansel Robles, despite his struggles this spring. As frustrating as it has been at times to watch him fall short of expectations, Robles still has a career ERA under 4.00, and has struck out more than a batter per inning in every season. He has to stop the bleeding in Port St. Lucie - two homeruns in five innings is a rough start - but in all likelihood he will join the team in a low-leverage middle-relief role. As long as the team isn't asking him to take on more responsibility than that, he should be perfectly adequate.
Two products of the Mets' 2017 fire sale are also battling for a job. Jamie Callahan, acquired for Addison Reed, showed some promise last year, but his youth and shaky spring performance should land him in AAA for depth to start the season. Jacob Rhame, the return for Curtis Granderson, is turning heads this spring, with a sizzling fastball striking out nearly two batters per inning, and while the odds are stacked against him making the team right off the bat, he's making a good argument for it.
The Mets will almost certainly carry a long man, but who that is largely depends on the battle for the rotation currently underway. Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo are probably the top candidates right now, with Robert Gsellman ticketed for Vegas to stay stretched out as a starter, but Wheeler is fighting to hold on to a starter role. Steven Matz is looking like the most likely to fall out of the rotation, but despite their lack of lefties in the bullpen, he's unlikely to land there before a stint in the minors (or on the disabled list).
And then there's Rafael Montero. His lack of options means the team can't send him to the minors without losing him, unlike the other pitchers on this list. He has yet to show the ability to pitch well with any consistency, and by any measure, his poor showing this spring should be the end of the line for him. But for whatever reason - early success in the minors, flashes of performance late last season, seven strikeouts over four Spring Training innings - they just can't seem to quit him.
Between their four big guns, two or three middle relievers, and a long man, the Mets will have put together a group of relievers that is, if not quite formidable, potentially strong, but also notably deeper than in prior years. Callahan and Rhame, as well as other young guns such as Tyler Bashlor, will be waiting for the inevitable call up, ready to make their claim to a bullpen spot.
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