Although it hardly comes as a surprise, the shaky New York Mets bullpen continues to lose games in gut-wrenching fashion.
The New York Mets aren’t going anywhere this season. They might oscillate around the .500 mark for a few more months. But who’s kidding? This team is not built to be a contender this year and that was obvious over the course of two strange nights.
On Thursday, the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals played through a potential rain delay long enough for Edwin Diaz to give up two runs in the top of the ninth. Mother Nature would have the final say on Thursday and the game was suspended until Friday.
Manager Mickey Callaway gave Diaz the opportunity to right his wrong and pitch the 10th inning of the restarted game on Friday. The 25-year-old gave up a run and as a result, blew the same game twice in two days. There are serious cracks starting to show in the Edwin Diaz facade.
There were no cracks in Jeurys Familia‘s game on Friday. It was more akin to a full-blown meltdown. After Steven Matz battled through six innings and Robert Gsellman safely navigated the seventh inning, it was Familia’s turn in the eighth. With a 5-4 lead, Familia promptly gave up a solo home run to prolific Met killer, Paul DeJong.
But Familia wasn’t done. Or rather, the Cardinals weren’t done with him. Dexter Fowler launched a two-out, three-run home run to put St. Louis up for good. For the second time in two nights, the Mets had blown a lead in the eighth inning or later.
And just like that, the Mets were once again reduced to a cheesy Aerosmith tune. It was the same old song and dance.
The lineup is filled with talented young players and the starting rotation is starting to coalesce into something special. However, the Mets’ Achilles heel this season has been, and will continue to be their bullpen.
First-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen deserves credit for making the bullpen a priority in the offseason. He was aggressive on the trade market and he was willing to open the checkbook for a free agent to shore up the back end of the bullpen.
However, Van Wagenen’s acquisitions have not looked great thus far in 2019. Diaz, acquired in a trade from the Seattle Mariners, deserves some leeway. He was lights out in his first 24 appearances, allowing a measly four runs. That being said, he’s given up three or more runs in two of his last five appearances. This could be a blip in the radar, but Diaz is starting to look like the type of shaky closer that always seem to be trotting out of the Mets’ bullpen. He’s not quite Armando Benitez or Braden Looper yet, but Diaz still has a lot to prove.
The far more damning move for Van Wagenen was to hand out a three-year, $30 million contract to Familia per Spotrac. The former Mets closer was brought back to shore up the setup role. Familia has been nothing short of a disaster in his second stint with the Metropolitans. The sinker-baller is sporting a 6.91 ERA with four blown saves to his name.
Again, it was nice to see Van Wagenen address the bullpen in the offseason, but it remains the Mets’ one glaring weakness. The Mets missed out on the opportunity to sign Craig Kimbrel when the Chicago Cubs swooped in and inked the All-Star closer to a three-year deal.
The Mets cannot compete for the postseason with their current bullpen this erratic on a night-to-night basis. Anyone who watches the Mets knows the bullpen is a complete liability. This isn’t a groundbreaking discovery.
But if it’s obvious to me and you, it should be just as obvious to Van Wagenen and the front office. The Mets have two options at this point. Make a trade and bring in some help or face facts that Van Wagenen’s “team to beat” talk during the offseason was just bravado. This team isn’t going anywhere.