In a major blow to an already battered roster, the Mets lost their closer, Bobby Parnell, and relief pitcher Josh Edgin to injury within one week of each other. With the later addition of all-star third baseman David Wright to the disabled list, the Mets appeared to be on the brink of destruction. What else would you expect? A team that fails to play .500 ball when completely healthy was playing without one of their top pitchers (Niese), closer, reliever and captain. Yet somehow the team recently managed to pull off a three game sweep of the Colorado Rockies and instill a glimmer of hope in the eyes on their fans.
In an interesting article by Dan Duggan in Newsday, Duggan points out that over the last month the New York Mets bullpen has become one of the strongest components of the team. After pointing out that the pen blew four saves during the first month of the season and had an ERA of 5.09 (the second worst in the league), he then counters by saying that they have thrown their way to an impressive 2.10 ERA since July.
I was shocked to see the extent of the bullpens efficiency as of late, so I decided to take a look into when it all started to come together.
It is worth noting that while the bullpen has shown a stark increase in proficiency, their recent work was only enough to lower the season ERA to 3.70, a statistic that has earned the mediocre rank of 16th out of all major league teams and ninth in the national league.
In the month of May, the bullpen had a 3.99 ERA, bad enough to rank 23rd in the majors and 13th in the National League. During this time they let up 35 earned runs, which tied them for 10th most out of any team in baseball. In June, the bullpen threw its way to a 4.16 ERA with 39 earned runs allowed, worse than the month prior but still good enough to advance to the 20th ranked monthly ERA in the league, and 10th in the NL. If we follow these statistics into July, we can see the vast improvements that have been made. The bullpen pulled in a 2.19 ERA for the month and ranked third in the entire league. The 23 earned runs they allowed during this month was good enough to rank them ninth in the entire league and fifth in the NL.
So far, at the time of this writing, seven games into the month of August, the Mets rank fifth in the league with a bullpen ERA of 1.69, trailing only the Royals, Rangers, Athletics and Braves. It seems something is happening for the Mets bullpen, considering their stark increase in productivity, and their consistent production even with the loss of Parnell and Edgin.
The Mets bullpen has even managed to pitch its way to a 1.20 ERA over the last nine games.
It’s a glimmer of hope in the midst of a despondent last few weeks.With David Wright injured and the teams offensive capabilities seemingly crippled, someone needed to step up or it seemed the Mets were destined for another end of year flounder. It appears that the under appreciated members of the Mets bullpen are doing just that.
LaTroy Hawkins deserves much of the praise. He took the center stage and successfully closed two games as part of the Mets series sweep of the Colorado Rockies this past week. His two saves this season ranks as the most he’s had since 2009 when he racked up eleven for the Houston Astros.
With his two latest achievements, he raised his career saves number to 90, an accomplishment that spans 19 years of professional ball. It’s contributions like these that the Mets need going forward. While Hawkins has nearly 20 years of experience, I think that the work he has done as of late deserves acknowledgment. It’s not every day that a 40 year old reliever can step into a role he hasn’t played consistently for over four years. But when Parnell was suddenly injured, he did just that.
Now, by no means am I saying that this is the surefire call sign of a world series champion, but the bullpens recent ability to produce at a relatively high level is a sign of promise. And while I feel that this bullpen is nothing more than a placeholder for future prospects, it’s certainly has made for some entertaining baseball.
Note: The Mets bullpen faltered last night. Scott Atchison stepped in to close and gave up a walk-off home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, prior to this blunder, the bullpen appeared strong, coming out and pitching 3 shutout innings while giving up only one hit.