Brian Stokes. Fernando Nieve. Raul Valdes. Sean Green.
No, I am not listing the all “keep those guys off my team” list – this is a listing of the guys Jerry Manuel has ridden like a 1981 Chevy Astrovan across the border. Jerry Manuel is to the concept of MLB bullpens and how to keep them productive for long periods of time as Dusty Baker is to the concept of pitch counts and not annihilating starting pitchers under the age of 26.
Disregarding the 2009 anomaly of an injury season, misused relievers as starters and letting guys pitch for the Mets who should have been at Triple A, we will view the usage of the bullpen in the 2010 season and what it may mean for the bullpen at the end of the season.
Just for arguments sake, omit the 70 innings that Hisanori Takahashi has pitched. I will also discount any of the innings and appearances accrued today, Sunday, July 4th 2010 in which Bobby Parnell, Elmer Dessens, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano and K-Rod all decided to contribute to Jerry’s weekly bullpen exploitation.
Fernando Nieve, or as he was known in April and May as Jerry’s everyday guy, has already pitched 33 and two third innings, only eight and two thirds which have come in the entire month of June. He has looked horrible since about the middle of May and its pretty evident what the overuse has done to him and his value. If it weren’t for the fact the Mets fear losing Nieve if they demote him to Triple A, he would probably be in Triple A anchoring the bullpen with Manny Acosta. But of course, that is not and will not be the case anytime soon.
Raul Valdes racked up thirty innings, and hasn’t pitched since June 18th. He was demoted for ineffectiveness, but was used for more then two innings eight times over his twenty games.
Pedro Feliciano, now moonlighting as an eighth inning reliever, has accounted for 33 innings of work, and went through a period in early June where he was ineffective.
Jenrry Mejia, starter of the future for the Mets, pitching in no-leverage to low-leverage situations, racked up 27 uneventful innings, possibly stunting his growth.
……Not to digress, but just between these four relievers, two of which who aren’t with the Mets anymore, have racked up 103 innings of work. The season, as of today just reached its halfway point and Nieve is already floundering, and Feliciano, the best lefty in the bullpen is already halfway to his workload last season, and on pace for 92 appearances.
Frankie Rodriguez has already amassed 41 innings, and thats only with 19 saves to show for it. K-Rod’s always on the verge of a blown save, and really letting him get up into the 70-80 inning range is a scary thought
Which brings me to the next contestant on the Tommy John gameshow…Bobby Parnell. Since June 22nd, Parnell has made 8 appearances, spanning 8.2 innings, but showing good control.
Overall, I feel Jerry Manuel has been mismanaging his bullpen the entirety of this season, and not letting his starters run out there and give him some quality innings. In the end, when the Mets are in contention, either for an NL East banner or a Wild Card birth, the bullpen that is the freshest and can shut the games down will almost always win the game. By September, this bullpen is gonna look and smell like 2008..and Mets fans know, that 2008 stunk.