On the whole, baseball is a simple game. The pitcher takes the ball and throws it over the plate, while the batter either watches it go by, puts the ball in play or swings and misses.
Pretty simple, right?
Well, our beloved Mets have of course found a way to skew the most basic facet of the game: throwing strikes.
Both the Mets’ starters and relievers have struggled with walks in the early going, which has definitely played a factor in the early season losses. The Mets were in most of their games until they were burned by the walk.
On Opening Day right before John Buck hit that morale-crushing grand slam, Mike Pelfrey walked two hitters.
After the Mets overcame a seven-run deficit in Philadelphia last week, Blaine Boyer had a huge walk in the bottom of the fifth which allowed the Phillies to tack on an insurance run.
Last night, Jon Niese walked Seth Smith with one out that later set up early NL-MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki’s three-run homer.
Let me start this off by saying that walks are undoubtedly going to happen. Though pitchers are paid to throw strikes, they sometimes try to get too fancy in spotting their pitches and miss the strikezone.
I can live with a starting pitcher doing this, since he is likely to see each hitter at least 2-3 times per start.
However, we need our relievers to throw strikes. In tight games, walks kill a team, especially walks that lead off an inning. The opposing team can then sacrifice the runner over and then has two chances to drive in the run.
The Mets have a putrid 4.83 bullpen ERA (25th in the league). Even worse, they are second only to the LA Angels with 21 bullpen walks.
The Mets have only played 11 games, so that’s almost two bullpen walks per game, which is unacceptable.
Granted, the Mets bullpen ERA has been ballooned by Boyer’s eight earned runs in just 6.2 innings of work. Luckily, Jason Isringhausen replaced Boyer, and may be able to provide some stability in the pen.
Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz have also struggled with walks. Byrdak has two walks in 4.0 innings, which has played a role in his 9.00 ERA. Buchholz takes the cake, however, with five walks in just 6.2 innings.
Bobby Parnell hasn’t been great throwing strikes either, with three walks in 4.1 innings.
Let’s all just take a deep breath.
One thing the Mets have shown this year is a little bit of fight. They’ve shown they can come back in games (at least to some degree).
However, the team’s efforts are squandered when the bullpen cannot hold the lead. We need guys in the pen that can come in, throw strikes and give the Mets’ bats a chance to either continue their comeback or tack of some insurance runs.
I wonder how patient the Mets will be if the bullpen keeps up these walks. I’m sure there are relievers in the Mets’ system that can throw strikes.
If necessary, bring up the “Boof.”
Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.