The closer we get to opening day, the more the bullpen of the New York Mets starts to take shape. As horrible as the Mets bullpen has been in past years, this year’s bullpen is actually looking good. General manager Sandy Alderson has done a fine job of addressing the bullpen this offseason, and put together a group that looks promising heading into the season.
Incumbent closer Frank Francisco will likely start the season on the disabled list, but regardless of Francisco’s health, Bobby Parnell has earned the closer’s job with a strong performance this spring. Parnell will have a lot to prove when the regular season starts, but the Mets should feel confident that he’s ready to take that next step and become a full-time closer.
The set-up men in front of Parnell will include Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins, and Scott Atchison from the right side and Josh Edgin from the left side. Lyon should take on the 8th inning to start, where he should be reliable, and he could serve as Parnell’s backup if he struggles. Hawkins and Atchison were non-roster invitees this spring, but they have performed this spring like the established major league veterans that they are. As for Edgin, he will be the primary lefty specialist for the Mets, although he should start to become a reliever that can get righties out as well.
The final two spots in the bullpen will go to some combination of Robert Carson, Greg Burke, and Jeurys Familia. Carson and Burke would fill smaller roles in the bullpen, but if Familia makes the team it would be interesting to see what kind of role he would have in the bullpen, as he has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever, but perhaps not at this point in his career.
The Mets also have good reserves waiting in the minors. There is a chance Familia could begin the season as the closer in AAA, preparing himself to play a major role in the big league bullpen later in the season. The Mets will also have veteran lefty Pedro Feliciano, who has elected to start the season in the minors to build up arm strength and stamina. Youngsters Collin McHugh, Cory Mazzoni and Gonzalez Germen are also waiting in the wings if the Mets need bullpen help later in the season. There is also the possibility of veteran Tim Byrdak returning from injury mid-season to help bolster the Mets bullpen.
Until the season starts we won’t know for sure, but at the moment the Mets should feel confident that their bullpen is going to get the job done when the lights come on and the regular season begins.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.