Going into the 2012 season, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made multiple moves in order to bolster a bullpen that was much beleaguered during the 2011 campaign. After moving Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez, Alderson signed free agent pitcher Jon Rauch to a 1-year, $3.5 million deal and closer Frank Francisco to a 2-year, $12 million deal. In the addition to relievers like Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak, as well as potential rookies who may make appearances later on in the season, the Mets had finally solved their late-inning issues. Or so it seemed.
The highest ERA of any bullpen in all of major league baseball belongs to the New York Mets. And it’s not very close. The Amazin’s bullpen has allowed multiple runs in back-to-back games and has allowed an earned run in 10 of the last 11 games that they have appeared in. In fact, the only game in that stretch that the bullpen did not allow a run was when they had an 11-2 lead against the light-hitting Tampa Bay Rays on June 12th.
While closer Frank Francisco has really seemed to rebound after a long shaky stretch and Tim Byrdak is still death against lefties, it’s the rest of that bullpen that has Mets fans shaking their heads late in games this season. Bobby Parnell has pitched better than his numbers would show this season, but can sometimes fall in love with his fastball and that is when he makes the transformation from pitcher to thrower. There is a big difference between the two. Jon Rauch, while he got out of a big time jam in the finale of the Rays series, has been the biggest culprit of all. Rauch’s low-point as a New York Met came last Sunday when allowing a walk-off home run to Russell Martin which resulted in a New York Yankees Subway Series sweep. It actually got so bad that a handful of disgruntled Mets fans made some very out of line comments about the statuesque relief pitcher.
The New York Mets have been the biggest surprise in the National League so far this year but no matter how good your perform, you cannot afford to have your bullpen continue to hand games away. We will find out in the coming weeks if these young Mets are contenders or pretenders, and their bullpen will be a major factor either way.
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