After a disastrous start in the first series of the season, the New York Mets‘ bullpen has quickly gotten its act together and performed well, even with multiple changes made to the closer’s role following the injury to Bobby Parnell. Coming off a series win against the St. Louis Cardinals, things are looking up for the Mets, and the winning has a chance to continue if the bullpen continues to perform at a high level.
As expected, the Mets have consistently received quality starts from the five pitchers in their starting rotation, with the team’s defense being a key contributor to their success on the mound. But the bullpen has been a surprise, with Kyle Farnsworth being a suitable replacement in the closer’s role and Carlos Torres excelling as the primary setup man. Meanwhile, Scott Rice has shaken off a sluggish start to the season, Gonzalez Germen has been steady, and Daisuke Matsuzaka has quickly adjusted to a role in the bullpen.
The rotation should continue to put the Mets in position to win games, and if the bullpen can continue to excel and close out games, the Mets should be able to continue winning games, even if their offense continues to sputter. However, there are reasons to be concerned about the long-term viability of the bullpen.
The overuse of key members of the bullpen is something that has burned the Mets in previous seasons, and it could become an issue this year, specifically with regard to Rice and Torres. Rice is currently the only lefty in the bullpen, and he will have to hold up while taking on a heavy workload. Torres has appeared in five of the last seven games, and while he’s been an essential part of the bullpen’s success, the Mets can’t expect to rely on him so frequently all season.
Of course, the Mets do have a strong contingent of pitching prospects, and a few of them may be ready to contribute out of the bullpen in the months to come, which could take some pressure off Rice, Torres, and Farnsworth. Matsuzaka could also become a key weapon for the Mets’ bullpen, as he’s pitched well in relief this year and shown the ability to pitch on back-to-back days.
Thus far, the Mets’ bullpen has given the team a lift, and put them in position to have a winning record at the end of April, which is critical to the Mets remaining competitive in the NL East this year. That winning can continue for the Mets, but only if the bullpen continues to hold up over the course of the season.