A couple of interesting stories today, one from Bister Olney of ESPN.com, and the other by Dan Graziano at the Star-Ledger.
Both articles seem to agree that the Mets are not just looking for just any ordinary arms for the bullpen, they are looking for some Major League heat.
Graziano spoke to someone familiar with the Mets plans and asked him what the teams major goal was for the bullpen.
The response: “Strikeouts.”
The Mets’ bullpen in 2008 was loaded with finesse pitchers who didn’t have swing-and-miss pitches. Billy Wagner was their only real strikeout reliever, and once he was gone it was a bunch of guys (Feliciano, Schoeneweis, Heilman, Smith, Ayala) who pitched to contact — often with disastrous results. That’s why they were so excited, late in the season, about the emergence of Brian Stokes, whose stuff was the kind of stuff that can be blown by hitters and generate strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Olney pens a great article with some great numbers for all you stat junkies out there. He comes to basically the same conclusion as Graziano.
Mets are focusing on relievers who generate missed swings, who get strikeouts, as they reshape their bullpen. They don’t intend to settle on a high-wire closer; they want a couple of relievers who come in and control innings.
The Mets’ relievers finished th season ranked 17th in the ratio of strikeouts-per-nine-innings, at 7.48, but that standing dipped after Billy Wagner was hurt at midseason.
If you average out Billy Wagner’s numbers, the Mets bullpen would have ranked 23rd in K/9 ratio.
Many of the biggest complaints I recall from last season on this site, greatly reflected these sentiments and a lot of us wondered why the Mets didn’t have any fireballers in the bullpen like some of the other bullpens we faced down the stretch.