New York Mets

The Antonio Bastardo experiment hasn’t panned out the way the New York Mets would’ve liked. Is a bullpen upgrade imminent?

Oh, what a weekend for Sandy Alderson’s offseason acquisitions.

On Saturday, Alejandro De Aza, the team’s dreadful bench outfielder, botched a bunt, didn’t run it out, and then slid headfirst into first base. This prompted the Braves announcers to deem it one of the most embarrassing plays they’ve ever seen.

A day later, Mets LHP Antonio Bastardo was charged with three earned runs in the eighth inning with the contest impasse, which engendered another late-game loss at the hands of an underwhelming opponent.

Bastardo’s given up 14 runs over his last 13 appearances, which has ballooned his earned-run average to 5.46. With the exception of a brief two-week stretch in which he punished hitters with his great stuff, Bastardo has been underwhelming.

Inked to a two-year, twelve million dollar deal before the season, Bastardo had lofty expectations. He pitched to the tune of a 2.98 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with the Pittsburgh Pirates just a season earlier.

However, Bastardo’s been a colossal disappointment in 2016. He has the thirteenth highest ERA among eligible relievers, and has a discouraging 4.96 xFIP, which, according to FanGraphs, is awful.

All of his numbers have increased from a season ago, and that’s not a good thing.

So what’s happened to Bastardo?

The most feasible explanation is one that has been cultivated by the lefty reliever: his command isn’t at the level it should be.

“Physically, everything is OK, I’m just having some trouble with my fastball command and just locating my pitches,” he said after Sunday’s game, via SNY. “I need to make some mechanical adjustments.”

Bastardo’s BB% has increased from 10.9% to 13.0% from a season ago, while his K-BB% has swelled as well.

“It’s all about commanding his fastball,” manager Terry Collins said. “When he falls behind on his fastball, it gets him in trouble, and that’s what he’s been doing.”

Opponents are laying off the junk as well. Per FanGraphs, his O-Swing% (opponents swinging at pitches outside the zone) has decreased from 31.1% to 24.0%.

That can be attributed to other competitors learning the book on him, or his pitches missing the strike zone more and more.

Maybe it’s resolute that his velocity has decreased by a full MPH. Or maybe that’s just another aspect of Bastardo’s game that has been damaged.

Whatever the case, it’s imperative that New York acts — like now.

NEXT: Noah Syndergaard Leads Mets Into Showdown With Nats

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.