We’ve finally arrived at our fourth and final installment of the New York Mets report cards for 2017. The bullpen gets put under the microscope today.Sandy Alderson has been a lot of things for the Mets during his tenure as general manager, but a bullpen architect does not make that list. For whatever reason, Sandy has never been able to put together a dominant, championship-caliber pen.
When it comes to the bullpen, elite options are a great asset to have in the late innings, but depth is what sets the top bullpens apart. The Mets learned this lesson the hard way after watching Jeurys Familia spend much of the 2017 season on the disabled list and the rest of the bullpen subsequently underperform.
Bullpen Grade: C
The bullpen was one of the tougher grades to decipher because even though there were multiple abject failures within the group, some younger players performed well enough to merit consideration for next year’s roster.
It is always best to start with the good news, which is why we’ll land on Jerry Blevins to kick things off. Blevins might be one of Alderson’s most underrated acquisitions, even after a broken arm cost him most of 2015.
Jerry Blevins is 1 of just 9 RP this year who had ERA under 3.00, groundball % of at least 40%, & K% of at least 31.0%. (Min. 40 IP) #Mets pic.twitter.com/0kQeI7EQcP
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) October 2, 2017
Blevins has been stellar as a Met and this season was no different as he appeared in 75 games, pitching to a 2.94 ERA while posting a career-high K/9 rate. The team could not have expected much more from the reliable rubber-armed lefty.
If Belvins is considered a steal, trading for AJ Ramos could turn out to be a case of Alderson getting swindled by the Marlins. Ramos posted a respectable 3.63 ERA with Miami through July, saving 20 games in the process. His 4.74 ERA with the Mets wasn’t nearly as respectable.
He’s under contract next year, but if he doesn’t right the ship he might quickly turn into a trade bust.
Despite being moved to Boston in a deadline deal, Addison Reed was exactly as advertised for the Mets. When Familia went down with injury, Reed stepped into the closer’s role valiantly and then rewarded the Mets further with a quality trade return.
Of some of the young talent the Mets have in the pen, Paul Sewald looked the part early in the season, but September was a struggle as his ERA ballooned to 4.55. That one bad month may have placed Sewald on the roster bubble for next year, so he’ll need a strong spring training to recoup his stock.
And on the topic of value, nobody’s value in the bullpen may have dropped more than Hansel Robles. The hard throwing 26-year-old was supposed to represent the future of Mets relievers, but now he looks more like a future minor leaguer. After putting together a respectable 3.48 ERA in 2016, Robles declined heavily and finished with a 4.92 ERA in 2017.
Quite possibly the biggest disappointment in the late innings was Fernando Salas, who underwhelmed to the point of being designated for assignment. Salas was supposed to be a stabilizing force along with Reed and Familia. As it turns out, none of those three were pitching for the Mets in late August.
One promising sign form the 2017 bullpen was Jamie Callahan. The 23-year-old, who was acquired in the Reed deal, made nine appearances in September and kept his ERA to a respectable 4.05. He also managed five strikeouts in only 6.2 innings pitched.
The best way to describe the 2017 bullpen is up and down, and it’s funny how you can say that about most of the 2017 team’s positional groups. Look for some young guns like Callahan and Sewald to make the roster next spring, and for a possible Reed reunion this winter. If the team can add a few quality arms to help Blevins, Ramos and Familia, the 2018 bullpen can be a productive one.