Even when closer Jeurys Familia returns, the New York Mets will still have problems to solve in their bullpen.
Over the last decade, the importance of having a dominant bullpen has been prevalent in teams that pursue pennants. The San Francisco Giants back end has consisted of guys like Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt who were clutch in high-pressure situations. The Kansas City Royals trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland was the game’s best in 2015 and ’16 (minus Holland in ’16).
If you’re going to make a run deep into October, you’ll need relievers who can get it done in high leverage situations. The Mets trio of Fernando Salas, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia (who returns soon from suspension) might not be good enough for a run in October.
Salas, who pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 17.1 innings for the Mets last season, has been excellent early on, in all fairness. However, he’s pitching almost every night, and you have to wonder if the heavy workload will wear on him as the season progresses. It’s also worth noting that Salas hasn’t posted a sub-three ERA over a full season since 2011 with St. Louis. He’s surely going to be an asset to the bullpen, but whether he can be lights out in October remains to be seen (career 3.54 postseason ERA in 20.1 innings).
Reed enjoyed a career-best season in 2016. His 1.97 ERA was easily his personal best, and like Salas, is off to a stellar start in 2017. However, aside from last season, Reed has never finished a single season with an ERA lower than 3.38. That leads one to believe that Reed’s 2016 success will be difficult to repeat. His 5.63 postseason ERA (eight innings) with the Mets also leaves us concerned that he lacks a dynamite track record when the games matter most, be it a fairly small sample size.
This brings us to Mr. Familia, who fans know all too well about his struggles in the postseason. Though he’s proven himself as one of the better regular season closers in the game, he’ll have to exercise some demons from the past two Octobers.
To be fair, Familia probably takes more heat than he deserves considering his brilliance against the Dodgers and Cubs while his defense let him down against Kansas City. However, the ghosts of Alex Gordon and Conor Gillaspie will haunt Mets fans until Familia proves he can shut the door in October.
Outside of the Mets favored trio, Hansel Robles has flashed serious inconsistency. Jerry Blevins is a reliable lefty, but Terry Collins can’t honestly turn to Josh Edgin or Josh Smoker with legitimate confidence in his other lefties just yet. Rafael Montero‘s command issues are well documented and he can’t be deemed reliable.
Now, it’s certainly possible that Smoker, Robles and Montero who are young and still maturing can improve over the course of the season. It’s possible someone from the minors, like Paul Sewald, makes an impact later this year. Sandy Alderson also has the resources to pull off a trade, something he hasn’t shied away from during the past two seasons.
Until something changes, the New York Mets have to be concerned with their current bullpen. Their dominant rotation could be in jeopardy of seeing their efforts wasted in crucial games unless the bullpen improves.