I think Willie Randolph finally gets it.
After an entire season of hearing Randolph apologizing for his bullpens deficiencies, and sugar coating every single blown save and single missed opportunity, it has finally dawned on him that his bullpen in fact, very unreliable and very ineffective.
On Friday night, in a game that the Mets had to absolutely win, that fact became clearly evident to everyone watching.
With the Mets up 4-0 in the sixth inning, and with the bases full of Braves and nobody out, and Chipper Jones lumbering to the plate, a visibly tired, and a mentally shot John Maine, peered into the dugout.
He was gasping for air and waited for his manager to come out of the dugout, instead his manager raised his fist in the air and shouted out a fiery retort like "mow em’ down!"
Maine then looked behind him towards the bullpen. There was nobody throwing.
He paced around the mound, giving his manager every possible sign by means of his body language, that he was out of gas.
It even prompted a visit from first baseman Carlos Delgado who wondered what the delay was. He told Maine, that this was all on him, and that there’s nobody in the bullpen, and that he had to "do what you gotta do."
And right at that moment it dawned on the fans, and even the players, that Willie Randolph did not trust his bullpen.
Willie Randolph has seen the light. He now realizes that even one of our tired starting pitchers is more effective at protecting a lead than any of his currently over-worked relievers.
Of course, John Maine did exactly "what he had to do", and got the job done by popping Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira out, and striking Brian McCann out on a called strike three. Beautiful.
He even came out for the seventh inning and pitched another solid inning!
If Willie had this mentality all season long, Tom Glavine and El Duque would each have 16 wins instead of 8 or 9.
Maybe that sweep in Philly will have a positive lasting effect for the rest of the season. Sometimes you have to hit rock-bottom before you can really be honest with yourself and realize you have to change your behavior. I think the Phillies series was Willie’s rock-bottom. It all gets better from here.
The good news is that in today’s game, Mike Pelfrey also found himself in a bases loaded jam in the 5th inning, and once again common sense prevailed and Pelfrey got out of the jam and eventually won his first game of the season.
Now I’m not suggesting that we never use the bullpen again, of course that would be unrealistic. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t use the bullpen for 4-5 innings everyday. Stick with your starters more, don’t be so quick to pull someone in the middle of a great start because he exceeded 90 pitches.. Let your starters, start, and your relievers, relieve.
Stick to that formula, and it will be smooth sailing the rest of the way!