Heading into Spring Training, the New York Mets’ bullpen was one of the biggest questions facing the team. There were a lot of competitors, a lot of spots up for grabs, and a lot of rookies in camp who are likely to appear at some point this season. But the group has come together nicely throughout the course of the spring, and the back end of the Mets’ bullpen has a chance to be a strength for the team in 2014.
The biggest question facing the Mets’ bullpen this spring was the health of closer Bobby Parnell, who missed the final two months of the 2013 season and underwent offseason surgery for a herniated disk. But Parnell has not only looked healthy this spring, he’s also pitched well, allowing just one hit in five innings of work. The performance indicates that he’ll be ready for the start of the season, giving the Mets a reliable closer.
Along with Parnell healthy and pitching well, the Mets could see one of its young relievers have a breakout season as well. Jeurys Familia showed promise early last season before missing most of the year with an injury, and he’s had an exceptional spring, throwing eight shutout innings and allowing just six base runners. Familia is as talented as any pitcher the Mets have, and has the potential to become a shutdown eighth-inning reliever to set up Parnell.
Jose Valverde has also had a good spring and earned a spot on the Mets’ Opening Day roster. He’ll be one of the few veterans in the Mets’ bullpen this year, and even if he can’t pitch at the level of a closer, he can still be a helpful member of the Mets’ bullpen.
Valverde and youngster Vic Black are the two biggest wildcards in the Mets’ bullpen this year; both have the ability to be quality setup men. With Valverde, it’s a matter of showing that he has something left in the tank, and with Black, it’s a matter of avoiding the control problems that have plagued his minor league career at times.
The Mets certainly have the caliber of pitchers necessary to be strong at the back end of their bullpen. With strong springs from Parnell, Familia and Valverde, as well as the potential of Black, New York should have a lot of good options at the end of games, which is absolutely necessary for the team to have success in 2014.