Bullpen Is Better Than You Think

An article by posted on July 16, 2012

It’s funny how sometimes a conversation opens your eyes to something and you just have to get it off your chest.

We often here about how bad the Mets bullpen is. How it’s the worst in the league, and how Sandy Alderson did a terrible job at getting bullpen help.

To me, I always thought that wasn’t true. Now I know it.

The tricky thing about ranking bullpens is plenty of pitchers have appearances, usually due to injuries and they can shift the total ERA a bullpen has.

Relief pitching consists of small sample sizes.

For example, according to espn.com, the Mets bullpen ERA is 4.90. The worst in the big leagues.

If you take out Elvin Ramirez, you’ve now just made the Phillies the worst bullpen in the league.

Every team calls up pitchers to fill a bullpen need here and there. The problem for the Mets in terms of these rankings is that they’ve all been terrible.

Manny Acosta, Elvin Ramirez, DJ Carrasco, Robert Carson, Josh Edgin have a combined ERA of 10.37.

Now, I am not suggesting for a second that their outings do not count. I am suggesting that there are more important numbers to look at.

When you talk about the Mets bullpen, you talk about Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell, and Tim Byrdak. The 5 relievers with the most appearances for the Mets.

If you take those 5 guys, the 5 who are most likely to pitch in a game for the Mets in relief, their ERA is 3.82. By comparison, if you took the Mets top 5 bullpen arms in 2011 based on appearances, their ERA would be 3.88.

That is the number you’re trying to improve on. Not the 4.90 that you see on ESPN.com. When you’re judging the Mets bullpen, it makes more sense to judge them on the players they use most often. You wouldn’t judge their lineup based on Vinny Rottino’s batting average would you? Of course not.

For giggles, I looked at other NL teams. I wanted to see if I took the pitchers with the top 5 most appearances, what would their ERA be?

Phillies:  4.36
Brewers:  4.52
Marlins:  4.28
Astros:  3.87
Cardinals: 3.83
Cubs: 4.33

By those numbers, the Mets “go to guys” are performing better than 40% of the rest of the NL’s “go to guys.” (6 out of a remaining 15 teams).

That is pretty significant to tell you the truth. It changes my views of the bullpen for sure. It also in some ways negates the “Sandy Alderson acquired the worst bullpen in baseball,” because it’s simply not true.

I’m not suggesting the bullpen has been great by any means.

I’m not even suggesting they do not need an upgrade.

I’m not suggesting Ramirez, Rauch, Francisco have performed up to my standards.

I am suggesting they aren’t the worst in baseball, let alone the NL.

Nobody here is taking Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp, James Russell, Rafael Doli and Casey Coleman as a group of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Bobby Parnell, Ramon Ramirez and Tim Byrdak.

If that statement is true, then the Mets can’t have the worst bullpen.

What the Mets bullpen lacks is a lights out middle reliever, consistency from their 5 go to guys and clearly depth in the minor leagues to fill in roles as necessary due to injury.

It’s easy to go to ESPN, see that stat and then refuse to look any deeper into things. You cannot erase what guys like Acosta, or Elvin Ramirez did to the team.

Everybody who is looking for an easy attack on the Mets front office uses Rauch, Ramirez, Francisco and Byrdak to do so. When they do that, they also add the tag line, “worst bullpen”.

It’s simply not true, and totally unfair to say that.

The Mets have 5 relievers that make up their everyday bullpen if healthy.

Every team has the same makeup, and if you compare our 5 to other teams’ 5, the Mets are hardly the worst.

This conversation stemmed from a chat I had very recently with one of our loyal readers Vinny B. Thanks for being my muse today.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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