There have been a lot of changes made to the New York Mets’ bullpen over the first two months of the season, and the bullpen has cost the Mets a lot of games over that span. However, the personnel in the Mets’ bullpen is finally starting to look like what the Mets would like it to be, and the results are starting to reflect that.
It all starts with Jenrry Mejia, who has finally filled the Mets’ void at closer. After years speculation and debate about how Mejia fit into the Mets’ long-term plans, it appears that Mejia has finally found his home in the closer’s role. He’s been excited to pitch in that role, and while the Mets are being careful about his workload, he’s been effective when called upon.
Also, Terry Collins is finally giving Jeurys Familia opportunities in meaningful situations at the end of games, including a five-out save when Mejia was unavailable. Much like Mejia, Familia is one of the most talented pitchers on the Mets’ roster with the ability to blow hitters away and pitch in big spots; it’s just a matter of getting experience in the bullpen against big league hitters.
The Mets were hoping that Vic Black would be a key part of the bullpen all season, but after an atrocious Spring Training, he started the year in triple-A. Now he’s back in the big leagues, and he’s looked dominant in his first two outings. Black may have blown his opportunity to become the team’s closer with Mejia settling into that role, but Collins will have no problem inserting him into key situations if he continues to pitch the way he has in his first two outings.
The trio of Mejia, Familia, and Black gives the Mets the exact type of pitchers they need in the bullpen: young power arms. It’s not a coincidence that the Mets’ bullpen has been better recently with Mejia becoming the closer, Familia taking on a more prominent role, and Black returning to the big leagues.
Having those three pitchers being used in big spots helps the Mets to avoid overusing Carlos Torres, who’s been their most reliable reliever all season, while allowing Daisuke Matsuzaka to be used as a long man and spot starter, which makes their bullpen much more formidable and consistent.
Of course, the Mets’ bullpen still has some issues on the left side, as the performance of Scott Rice has been suspect and the jury is still out on whether Josh Edgin can be the caliber of pitcher he was a couple seasons ago. However, the Mets could continue to add reinforcements to the bullpen, as Gonzalez Germen will hopefully return at some point, while either Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom could move to the bullpen when Dillon Gee returns to the starting rotation.
The bottom line is that the Mets have finally ditched many of their aging relievers and allowed their young power pitchers to assume prominent roles in the bullpen. The team finally has the right personnel in its bullpen, and it’s starting to pay off with positive results on the field.