There’s no debating that the New York Mets bullpen has been a big disappointment so far this season. Rather than sit by and watch the team’s corps of relief pitchers blow game after game for them, general manager Sandy Alderson has already started to make roster moves in an effort to improve the bullpen.
Yesterday, the Mets sent reliever Greg Burke to the minors and recalled Jeurys Familia. Burke has been the most egregious violator of the bullpen’s issues this season, as he’s given up at least one run in five of his seven appearances this season. Meanwhile, Familia made the opening day roster, but he was soon demoted to AAA when the team needed a fifth starter. He’s made four minor league appearances for AAA Las Vegas and has thrown five innings without giving up a run. With any luck, Familia will be ready to come to the big leagues and stay, as he has the kind of stuff to be a late-inning reliever.
Swapping Burke for Familia was an easy decision for Alderson, but it probably won’t be the last move he makes in order to fix the bullpen. Veteran LaTroy Hawkins has been a disappointment early in the season and young lefty Josh Edgin has struggled at times as well. The Mets also have to keep a close eye on Scott Atchison’s health, as well as Scott Rice, who doesn’t have a major league track record, despite a good start to the season.
The Mets may have additional help on the way, as both Frank Francisco and Pedro Feliciano have begun rehab assignments in the minor leagues and could be available to join the Mets in the near future. Youngsters Robert Carson and Collin McHugh are also off to good starts in the minors. Carson could provide another lefty option in the bullpen while McHugh could become a reliable long man, although the Mets may need him in the starting rotation at some point.
We knew heading into the season that the Mets bullpen would be a work in progress, and barely two weeks into the season, changes have already started to be made. It’s not ideal that roster moves have to be made this early, but it’s better that Alderson being proactive in making changes in an effort to improve the bullpen than wait too long to do anything and watch the bullpen implode and the team’s record suffer.