Edwin Diaz

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METSellaneous: Joey Wahler On The Mets — How Bad Is This Mets Bullpen? History Tells The Story

July 10, 2019 - 4:18 pm
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By Joey Wahler

Statistically, this year’s horrid Mets bullpen is on pace to be perhaps the worst in team history, even more so than their struggling relief corps the last two years.

Through 90 games, the Mets have a baseball-worst 21 blown saves, with their save percentage of 50% tied for the bottom with the Red Sox. Rarely have the Mets suffered three worse significant relievers in a season than Jeurys Familia (2-1, 7.50, 1.8) Edwin Diaz (1-6 record, 5.50 ERA, 1.4 WHIP), and Robert Gsellman (1-1, 5.09, 1.4). Not to mention Wilmer Font (1-2, 4.94, 1.3), Drew Gagnon (3-1, 7.65, 1.6), Chris Flexen (0-3, 6.92, 2.0), Tyler Bashlor (0-3, 5.40, 1.4) and Luis Avilan (1-0, 9.00, 2.0).

The further back you go the less bullpens were used, so it’s hard comparing them to recent years, much less to today’s pens. Still, one thing is certain: only during their inaugural 1962 season have the Mets had this many often-used bullpen arms hit so hard.

Their “big three” that year were Ken McKenzie (5-4, 4.95, 1.5), Ray Daviault (1-5, 6.22, 1.7) and Bob Moorhead (0-2, 4.53, 1.5). They were joined by Willard Hunter (1-6, 5.57, 1.6), Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell (0-2, 7.34, 1.9) and Bob Miller (2-2, 7.08, 1.5). Craig Anderson (3-17, 5.35, 1.6) made 36 relief appearances and 14 starts. 

The aforementioned was Bob “Righty” Miller, as he was known to Met fans, acquired that season for Don Zimmer. Not to be confused with Bob “Lefty” Miller (1-12, 4.89, 1.4), mainly a starter in ’62, taken from the Cardinals with the Mets’ first pick in the expansion draft, believe it or not.

This nightmarish 2019 bullpen was supposedly revamped to improve upon the last two seasons. At least last year, however, the Mets had two somewhat reliable arms in Familia, until he was traded, and Seth Lugo. Others that plummeted were AJ Ramos (2-2, 6.41, 1.6), Paul Sewald (0-7, 6.07, 1.5) and Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 6.15, 1.5).

With Familia struggling (2-2, 4.38, 1.4) and hurt much of 2017, Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins pitched well. Yet Fernando Salas (1-2, 6.00, 1.7), Josh Smoker (1-2, 5.11, 1.7) and again Sewald (0-6, 4.55, 1.2) were bad. So this year’s pen futility far outweighs ’17 and ’18.

This decade has featured several forgettable Met relievers. The 2015 team became National League Champions despite Bobby Parnell (2-4, 6.38, 1.9) and late season acquisition Eric O’Flaherty (0-0, 13.50, 2.6). Other forgettable names were Manny Acosta in 2012 (1-3, 6.46, 1.5), D.J. Carrasco in 2011 (1-3, 6.02, 1.5), and Fernando Salas (2-0, 6.00, 1.4) and Ryota Igarashi (1-1, 7.12, 1.5) in 2010.

The 2000s included those with ERAs north of six like Jorge Sosa (7.06) in 2008, Alay Soler (6.00) in 2006, Mike DeJean (6.31) and Manny Aybar (6.04) in 2005, Tyler Yates (6.36) in 2004 and Rich Rodriguez (7.78) in 2000.

The Mets traded Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael to the A’s during the 1999 season for ex-Oakland closer Billy Taylor, who brought Diaz-like disappointment (0-1, 8.10, 2.1).

One of the all-time Mets relief whipping boys was Mel Rojas, acquired from the Cubs with Brian McRae and Turk Wendell during the 1997 season for Lance Johnson. The former Expos closer was horrid that year (0-2, 5.1, 1.1) and the next (5-2, 6.05, 1.6).

The 1992 Mets endured Paul Gibson (0-1, 5.23, 1.5), Lee Guetterman (3-4, 5.82, 1.6) and Barry Jones (2-0, 9.39, 2.0), who led the National League with 77 games pitched the year before for the Expos.

Among the biggest Mets relief flops of the 1970s was Butch Metzger in 1978 (1-3, 6.51, 1.8), two years after being National League Rookie Of The Year, and Phil Hennigan, who quietly (0-4, 6.23, 1.5) struggled in 1973 before the team won the National League Championship.

When the Mets went from 1969 World Champions to 88 wins and third place in the National League East the following season, Ron Taylor, Tug McGraw and Danny Frisella effectively led their bullpen. Yet Rich Folkers (0-2, 6.44, 2.0) and Don Cardwell (0-2, 6.48, 1.4) were weaknesses. That’s the only time two of the team’s five most used relievers posted an ERA above six, which could happen again this year.

In contrast, some struggling Met teams had far better bullpens than this year’s. How does a pen of John Franco, Jerry DiPoto, John Henry, Blas Minor and Eric Gunderson sound? Kind of like a closer and four guys from down the street, right? Well, despite a 69-95 record in strike-shortened 1995, all five had ERAs under four and a WHIP below 1.4. The Mets surely would sign for that now.

The 1982 Mets finished with a 65-97 record, last in the National League East. Nevertheless, they used 18 relievers that year, all with an ERA under five. Today’s Mets would take that too.

So now you know the answer the next time someone asks, “How bad is this Mets bullpen?”

Historically bad.