MMO Fan Shot: Will the Mets Bullpen Finally Shine in 2014?

An article by posted on February 28, 2014

Jose Valverde

An MMO Fan Shot by Ryan Flanagan

The 2013-2014 Mets offseason has painfully centered on discussion over Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Stephen Drew and Ruben Tejada, all at agonizing length. While they certainly are important, the most critical detriment to the team seems to be vastly overlooked by the media and fans alike; the strength of the Mets bullpen.

Say what you want about Sandy’s drafting abilities, the strength of his trades or the lack of spending in the free agent market, one thing cannot be argued is how disappointing the bullpen has been since he arrived.

Since the Mets GM came on board after the 2010 season, the bullpen has gotten progressively worse and ranks near the bottom of the league in many categories including Bullpen ERA, Save Percentage, Strikeout Rates, Walks Allowed, and Batting Average Against.

How the Mets stacked up in 2013 against the NL and MLB.

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The graph above captures where the Mets ranked against the MLB Average and both the NL and MLB Leaders. The Mets are shown in blue.

Innings Pitched: There seems to be an idea amongst some fans that the bullpen is consistently overworked. The Mets actually ranked right in the middle of both the MLB and NL in innings pitches at 12th and 7th, respectively. The team is only 8 innings off the pace of the MLB average.

Strike Outs: The Mets bullpen didn’t sit down hitters very often in 2013 by way of the strike out. In fact, they ranked dead last in not only the NL, but the entire MLB in that category. Understandably, some pitchers pitch more to contact and find success doing so, but strikeout rates this low is not a good thing. The Mets were nearly 30 strikeouts ahead of the the next-worst team alone and ranked 20th overall in K/9 in the majors at just 7.37

Walks: The Mets’ bullpen actually ranked well when it came to free passes. They were 11th across baseball, 6th in the NL and were better than the MLB average. Walks were not a critical issue for an overall struggling bullpen.

Hits: While the Mets don’t walk many batters, they certainly manage to give up hits. They ranked 4th highest in the MLB and 2nd highest in the NL in hits allowed with 493, nearly 40 more than the MLB average. That is not where you want your stoppers to be.

Those are just raw numbers and not really the best way to evaluate performance, But I thought it would be interesting to look at them nonetheless, just to see where we placed compared to other teams. Let’s move onto percentages.

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ERA: The Mets ranked 28th in MLB and 12th in the NL in bullpen ERA in 2013. This after two-straight seasons of having the second-to- worst bullpen ERA in the NL and nearly the worst in all of baseball. The Mets pen has been giving up runs in bunches. The Mets allowed nearly a half run more than the MLB average per nine innings and nearly 1.5 runs more than the MLB and NL Leader, the Atlanta Braves.

WHIP: The Mets ranked near the bottom when it came to walks/hits per IP. Already noting that the bullpen rarely walked batters, the amount of hits they give up drove up the WHIP considerably. The team ranked 21st in MLB and 12th in the NL with a 1.32 WHIP.

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Opponent Batting Average

The graph really speaks for itself….the higher up you go, the worse you get. The Mets were ranked among some of the games’ worst when it came to opposing team batting average, yielding a .256 average to opposing hitters. That ranked the Mets 27th in the MLB and 13th in the NL in 2013. However, the only three teams worse than the Mets play in hitters parks while the Mets play in Citi Field, a notorious pitchers park with a .867 Runs Park Factor in 2013, 29th lowest in the majors.

These statistics don’t tell the entire story and obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to know the Mets bullpen has been terrible over Sandy’s tenure, but it’s interesting to look at the numbers to see just how bad the Mets are across the league.

Bringing in the likes of veterans Frank Francisco, D.J. Carrasco, Brandon Lyon, etc. has not worked. This year, the bullpen was set to be stocked with some young and promising arms, but they may now be blanketed by more veterans like Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth and possibly John Lannan.

Gambling on veteran bullpen acquisitions in free agency is always difficult because they are so hit and miss especially those in the mid-to-lower tiers where the Mets have been fishing. Hopefully our young talent proves more successful then some of the disappointing free agents and minor league signings that have passed through Flushing the last few years, with apologies to LaTroy Hawkins who proved to be a valuable acquisition.

Forget first base and shortstop for a second; one thing’s for sure: this bullpen has to improve dramatically if this team is to have any chance to compete in 2014 and Sandy has yet to prove he can make that happen. Lets hope this is the year when our bullpen finally excels and gives our rotation and lineup a better chance to win some games and get us over the hump.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Ryan Flanagan. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily.

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