Mets Merized Online » bullpen Mon, 20 Feb 2017 05:56:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Five Things We Learned From Terry Collins Friday Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:03:39 +0000 jose reyes

1. Zack Wheeler played catch on Friday and felt fine. He will throw a bullpen session soon, possibly on Sunday. On Wednesday, it was reported that Wheeler felt “tenderness” in his right elbow after his most recent bullpen.

I think it’s safe to say that there was some overreaction to the tenderness news from Wheeler. He has barely pitched the last two plus seasons coming off Tommy John Surgery. 

2. Collins is unsure of who will bat leadoff when Jose Reyes isn’t in the lineup. Collins said that the Mets would like to get Reyes in the lineup 3-4 times a week. Reyes talked to reporters as well, saying he will be playing some third base, second base, shortstop and will take some fly balls in the outfield as well.

I would expect Curtis Granderson to leadoff when Reyes isn’t in the lineup, having done so 82 games in 2016 and 140 the season before. 

3. Pitching coach Dan Warthen was impressed by new submariner (watch him here) Ben Rowen in his bullpen session today. The Mets signed Rowen to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp this offseason.

Rowen has struggled in the majors with 6.94 ERA in only 11.2 innings. However, he has posted great minor league numbers with a 1.85, 1.02 WHIP and has allowed only eight home runs in 384.2 innings. 

4. David Wright is scheduled to play catch on Sunday for the first time since having neck surgery.

This is a huge step for the Captain in his recovery and let’s hope the throws look better than they did last season. 

5. As I previously reported, Mets first base prospect Dominic Smith has lost a significant amount of weight this offseason. Smith said today that he lost 24 pounds while working out and watching what he eats.

Smith’s weight was a big topic of conversation this past season despite him having a career season. Smith has spent a majority of the offseason living with a personal trainer then headed to the Barwis camp. I would expect a huge year from him in Triple-A Las Vegas. 

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Terry Collins Names Candidates For Final Two Bullpen Spots Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:00:22 +0000 josh edgin

In a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Terry Collins said that Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas are all locked into bullpen spots (Collins seems to be presuming a Jeurys Familia suspension) to begin the season and mentioned the following pitchers as candidates for the final two spots:

LHP Josh Smoker

2016 Stats: 3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 G, 15.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

While Smoker is a left-handed pitcher, he has reverse splits. In total, he struggled against left-handed batters and pitching multiple innings. Despite these issues, he can make a strong case for himself with his high strikeout rate.

LHP Josh Edgin

2016 Stats: 1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 G, 10.1 IP, 1.548 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

Edgin struggled in his return from Tommy John due in large part to his not fully regaining his velocity. Despite these struggles, and with the caveat of an extremely small sample size, Edgin pitched well to left-handed batters limiting them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.

Edgin may have the inside track to making the bullpen as he is out of options.

RHP Erik Goeddel

2016 Stats: 2-2, 4.54 ERA, 36 G, 35.2 IP, 1.318 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

Heading into the 2016 season, Goeddel had a 2.48 career ERA. The poor numbers from the 2016 season may be the result of a bone spur in his elbow that needed to be surgically removed in the offseason. With the successful surgery, it is reasonable to expect Goeddel can pitch like he had prior to 2016.

RHP Seth Lugo

2016 Stats: 5-2, 2.67 ERA, 17 G, 8 GS, 64.0 IP, 1.094 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

After struggling in the rotation in Vegas, he was moved to the bullpen where he thrived.  Before being thrust into the starting rotation late in the season, Lugo had made nine relief appearances going 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9.

He also thrived in the rotation earning his way into a three man competition for the fifth starters role. Should he lose the question is whether he’s better suited to a bullpen role or if he’s better suited being stretched out in Vegas?

RHP Robert Gsellman

2016 Stats: 4-2, 2.42 ERA, 8 G, 7 GS, 44.2 IP, 1.276 WHIP, 8.5 K/9

Like Lugo, Gsellman was thrust into the starting rotation due to injuries, and he thrived. While in the majors, Gsellman found an extra gear or two with his fastball making him even more lethal on the mound.

Now, given his young age and service time issues, it’s doubtful the Mets move him in the bullpen should he lose the fifth starter competition.  

RHP Zack Wheeler

2014 Stats: 11-11, 3.54 ERA, 32 G, 32 GS, 1.85.1 IP, 1.327 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

In the second half of the 2014 season, Wheeler seemed to realize his potential. During that stretch, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9.

He would then need Tommy John surgery on the eve of the 2015 season. He was supposed to return in 2016, but he couldn’t due to a number of setbacks. Now, no one knows what to expect from him either today or years down the road.

Certainly, whatever concerns you had were not alleviated by his having a sore elbow on the first day he started throwing this Spring.

LHP Tom Gorzelanny

2016 Stats: 1-0, 21.00 ERA, 7 G, 3.0 IP, 3.000 WHIP, 12.0 K/9.

Gorzelanny has had a rough few years, but he is still capable of getting left-handed batter out. Last year, he limited them to a .111/.273/.111 batting line in 11 PA. His career numbers are .229/.302/.356. With numbers like these, he’s got potential as a LOOGY.

Like Edgin, it appears Gorzellany may have a good shot to make the bullpen with Collins saying of him, “We will see how effective he is against lefties [b]ecause certainly having that experience down there will be a big factor if he shows us this spring he can get outs.”

For what it’s worth, Collins indicated he would not be adverse to carrying two additional left-handed relievers. This comment would appear that Collins is prepared to give Smoker, Edgin, and Gorzelanny a long look during Spring Training.

Ultimately, it appears who will join the bullpen will depend on who claims the fifth starters job and whether the Mets feel the two are better suited to joining the bullpen or being stretched out in the majors.

Collins fails to mention Jeurys Familia in the piece as we wait to hear if he will be suspended or not, and possibly for how long.

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Zack Wheeler Plays Catch, Aiming For Weekend Bullpen Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:45:36 +0000 zack wheeler spring

Zack Wheeler played catch today for about 10 minutes with New York Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen with no ill effects. This coming the day after it was reported that he felt some “tenderness” in his right elbow after a recent bullpen session.

Wheeler was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday in Port St. Lucie. He will now throw his next bullpen session on Saturday or Sunday.

Original Report – Feb 15

New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler experienced what he called ”tenderness” in his right arm after a recent bullpen session according to multiple reports from Port St. Lucie on Wednesday.

Wheeler is still scheduled to play catch on Thursday and throw a bullpen on Friday as the Mets believe it’s just scar tissue causing the tenderness.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen also said on Wednesday that Wheeler will be limited to the low 100′s for innings in 2017.

Wheeler has not pitched for the Mets since 2014, but was being counted on to be a significant part of the club’s plans going into the 2017 season.

In two seasons with the Mets, Wheeler has a 3.50 ERA over 285.1 innings. Over that span, he posted an 8.5 K/9 rate as well as a 3.9 BB/9 rate.

In March of 2015, just before the start of the season, Wheeler tore his UCL, requiring Tommy John surgery. He required extra recovery time for another minor procedure on his elbow.

Last season, in his effort to return to the Mets by season’s end, he suffered numerous setbacks. Wheeler threw a grand total of 17 pitches in the minor leagues before being shut down for the year.

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Is Zack Wheeler’s Future In The Bullpen? Wed, 15 Feb 2017 15:00:39 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves

During Terry Collins‘ first Spring Training press conference, he overtly stated that Zack Wheeler is a starting pitcher. With the Mets publicly considering using Wheeler in the bullpen, at least to start the season, Collins’ statements reminded me of how Bobby Valentine once held a similar opinion about Jason Isringhausen.

Back in 1999, the Mets were using Isringhausen, who had a litany of injuries and surgeries at that point, increasingly out of the bullpen. It was a natural fit for him with his having only made six major league starts over a two year period. And yet, Valentine preferred using Isringhausen in the rotation. As only Valentine could so eloquently put it, putting Isringhausen in the bullpen is like “us[ing] an Indy car as a taxi in New York City.” (New York Daily News).

As we know Isringhausen would be traded later that season in an ill-fated and ill-conceived deal for Athletics closer Billy Taylor. As an Athletic, Isringhausen would work exclusively out of the bullpen. From there, he would become an All Star closer amassing 300 career saves and making two All Star teams.

Given the relative injury histories, the reluctance to put the pitchers in the bullpen, and the hope both pitchers carried with them as part of future super rotations, the Wheeler-Isringhausen comparisons are unavoidable.

To that end, it is important to note one of the supposed issues with Isringhausen in the bullpen was his control. This is certainly understandable given his career 1.520 WHIP and 4.0 BB/9 as a starter. Yet, when moved to the bullpen and allowed to focus on his two best pitches, Isringhausen dramatically cut down on the hits and walks. As a result, the things that made people believe he was a dominant starter came into focus as he became a dominant closer.

The consistently noted fear with Wheeler in the bullpen is also his control. His 3.9 BB/9 is similar to what Isringhausen’s was as a starter even if his 1.339 WHIP is considerably better. It should also be noted Wheeler struck out more batters than Isringhausen did as a starter. That is probably because Wheeler’s pure stuff is better than Isringhausen’s.

Understandably, with Isringhausen and Wheeler being different pitchers, the comparison may seem a bit contrived or imperfect. With that said, we have seen how the Kansas City Royals have recently transitioned pitchers with similar skill sets to Wheeler, and they converted them into dominant relievers.

San Diego Padres v New York Mets

Luke Hochevar was a struggling starter who gave up too many walks. He was not having success in the rotation despite a low to mid 90s fastball and a high 80s cutter. He was transitioned to the bullpen where he thrived. Before showing the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, he was dominant in 2013 going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9.

Another notable starter-to-reliever transition is new Cubs closer and former Royal Wade Davis. As a starter from 2009-2011 and again in 2013, Davis amassed 513.2 innings, pitching to a 4.57 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.33 K/9, and .272 BAA. As a reliever since 2012 with the Rays and Royals, he has pitched 263 innings with a 1.51 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.22 K/9, and .167 BAA. The difference is so stark it’s hard to believe that starter is now considered one of the best if not the best closers in the game today.

Zach Britton came up as a starter and just had one of the best seasons for a reliever ever. Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances were each starters in the minor leagues, and now are considered three more of the best relievers in the game. What we see in all these men is that pitchers with great stuff can truly succeed in the bullpen. Moreover, pitchers who have had control issues as starters can better harness their pitches by focusing on two or maybe three pitches they throw best and work out of the stretch.

Given Wheeler’s past control issues, his not having pitched in two seasons, and the emergence of both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, it might be an opportunity for the Mets to move Wheeler in the bullpen where he may truly thrive. Of course, we won’t know that unless the Mets are willing to try. At this point, given Collins’ statements, it appears the Mets are not quite at that point yet. Maybe they should be.

Thoughts From Logan Barer:

I wholeheartedly agree with MetsDaddy in this instance. I am a pitcher myself and for a long time I had four pitches: Fastball, curveball, changeup, slider. They were all mostly so-so pitches, but when I got to college, my coach George Valesente told me to pick three. I scrapped the slider and focused on my other three pitches which are now all plus-plus.

Zack Wheeler throws five pitches: Four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. It might do him good to pick three or four of those pitches and focus on them. He certainly has great stuff, and moving to the bullpen could help him develop as a pitcher, while also limiting his innings this season as he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery.

With the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, now’s the time to experiment. Aside from Wheeler, the Mets have six guys who are capable of throwing a shutout on any given day. If one of them gets hurt, Wheeler can start in a pinch, but until that is necessary, I think the Mets should explore this option. (Also, Zach Britton should have won the AL Cy Young. No question.)

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Blevins ‘Happy And Excited To Be Back’ In New York Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:25:02 +0000 jerry blevins

Speaking with Matt Ehalt of, Jerry Blevins voiced his pleasure in returning to the Mets. He joked that reporters weren’t the only ones bugging him about where he was signing this offseason, but family members and friends were doing it too. “They were like, ‘Where are you going? I know you know. What’s the inside information?’”

“Ultimately I ended up where I wanted to be. I am happy and excited to be back,” Blevins said. “We’re excited, ready to go. Pumped to be back with the Mets and ready to move on.”

It was widely reported that Blevins wanted a three-year deal going into this offseason, but that didn’t happen as the market turned out to be different than he had hoped. Blevins will be paid $5.5 million this season, and the Mets hold a $7 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2018.

“The deal I have I am extremely happy with. I think it’s fair for both sides,” Blevins said. “Again, I am where I wanted to be, too, so it worked out. I hope the Mets feel the same way.”

“Having familiarity pitching in a market like this is rare, so when you’ve done it before and have had success, it builds that confidence,” Blevins continued. “And confidence is the name of the game when coming out of the bullpen.”

Blevins will form a strong back-end of the bullpen with Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, with Fernando Salas and Hansel Robles hoping to make impacts as well. In 2016, Blevins went 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in a career-high 73 games, striking out 52 batters in 42 innings.

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One Prediction For Each MLB Team: NL West Wed, 08 Feb 2017 15:15:37 +0000 MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

Baseball fans love predictions. They look at ZiPS, Fangraphs, and all kinds of sources to see what people are predicting about the upcoming season. While most of these predictions are based on mathematical algorithms, few are based on good old fashioned gut feelings. Of course, there needs to be a mix of statistics and actually watching these players, but this series of articles will make one prediction about each MLB team.

This article will look at the NL West, making one prediction about each team. The order in which they are listed is what I believe the final standings will be this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw will have one of the best seasons for a starting pitcher in history. That entails a combination of a few of his season totals. He will win at least 21 games, which he has done twice before. He will finish the season with a sub 2.00 ERA, which he has done three times before, and he will finish with a sub 1.000 WHIP which he has done five of the last six seasons. He will pitch at least 230 innings which he has done three times, and he will strike out 300 batters as he did in 2015. He is a Hall Of Famer and if it weren’t for an injury in 2016, he probably would have won his fourth Cy Young award at the age of 28. He finished 5th in voting and received two first place votes despite making only 21 starts, pitching 149 innings and striking out 172 batters. He posted a 1.69 ERA, 1.80 FIP, and 0.725 WHIP. He is the best pitcher on the planet and he will win his fourth Cy Young award this season.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies will make the playoffs, but they will lose to either the Mets or Nationals in the NL Wild Card game. They have the offense and defense to carry them through the regular season, however their pitching is nowhere close to good enough to take them through the playoffs. They’ve acquired Ian Desmond to play first base, giving them an above-average hitter at each of their starting positions besides catcher (until they go out and sign Matt Wieters). They also signed Greg Holland to be their closer, who I believe will be outstanding as he has always been. Their bullpen is strong overall as it also includes former closers Adam Ottavino, Jason Motte, and Chad Qualls, as well as Mike Dunn and long man Jordan Lyles. They will win a lot of high-scoring games this year, but their obvious lack of starting pitching (with the exception of Jon Gray) will be their downfall.

San Fransisco Giants

The Giants will not make the playoffs in 2017 for the same reason they lost a lot of games in 2016: their bullpen. Yes, they did sign Mark Melancon who has emerged as a reliable closer. However, they lost Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, two consistently effective relievers with closing experience. They are down two and up one, and while that one is better than each of those two, they have yet to address bullpen depth. Fireballer Hunter Strickland should end up being pretty good for them as an 8th inning man, and while youngster Derek Law had a good year for them, he could still be regarded as unproven. They got lefty Will Smith from the Brewers late last season who can get lefties out, but other than them, they don’t have much. With all those pitchers last season (except Melancon), the Giants blew a franchise record 32 saves. One man does not make a bullpen, and while acquiring Melancon was a good first step, the Giants’ bullpen as it stands will not get the job done.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Shelby Miller will continue to be a bust. After an All Star season in 2015 with the Braves in which he pitched 205.1 innings, striking out 171 batters and posting a 3.02 ERA, the Diamondbacks traded for him in the hope that he would be a strong #2 starter behind Zack Greinke. Instead he was horrible, going 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA (4.87 FIP) striking out 70 batters in 101 innings. Many were surprised, however from 2012-2015, Miller had a career 3.82 FIP, 1.236 WHIP, and 7.6 K/9. Even in his All Star season, he had a very high 1.247 WHIP. The fluke is not that he was bad last season in hitter-friendly Arizona, but that he was overrated with a career 3.22 ERA, much lower than a more telling 3.82 FIP.

San Diego Padres

Of you’re a Padres fan, look away. Not just at this article, but the entire season. They will lose 100 games this season and trade one of their two good players, Yangervis Solarte, before the trade deadline. They just locked up first baseman Wil Meyers through the 2023 season in a smart move, but other than him and Solarte, the Padres quite frankly have nobody remotely capable of even making an All Star team. Each position, excepting the corner infield spots, are manned by below-average players. Their rotation and bullpen are both very weak, and their closer has a career 4.80 ERA (3.84 as a reliever).

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Wheeler Feels 100%, Could Throw In Pen To Limit Innings Thu, 02 Feb 2017 18:30:52 +0000 zack wheeler

New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler was a guest on MLB Network radio earlier today and said that he hadn’t felt 100% healthy until right now.

Wheeler, 26, hasn’t pitched for the Mets in a major league game since 2014, lasting only one inning in a rehab start last season for St. Lucie. In two seasons with the Mets, Wheeler has a 3.50 ERA over 285.1 innings. Over that span, he posted an 8.5 K/9 rate as well as a 3.9 BB/9 rate.

Wheeler had Tommy John Surgery in March of 2015 and had another minor surgery in April of 2016 to remove an undissolved stitch remaining from the previous TJS. Wheeler made a rehab start on August 6 this past season with St. Lucie, but was pulled after only 17 pitches. He was shutdown in early September with a flexor strain in his pitching arm.

It’s been widely reported that Wheeler could see some time in the bullpen in the upcoming season. Wheeler had this to say about the possibility, “I want to be a SP. But this season I may have to throw out of the ‘pen to keep my innings down. I know they’re looking out for me”.

Wheeler threw a career high 185.1 innings during the 2014 season, but given that he’s only thrown one since in two years it would make sense for the Mets to ease him back. In addition to pitching in relief, the Mets could also piggyback some of his starts with Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo, both of whom have been mentioned as bullpen options by GM Sandy Alderson.

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Mets Willing To Do Two Years For Blevins Sun, 29 Jan 2017 16:25:54 +0000 Jerry Blevins

According to MLB Insider Andy Martino on Twitter, the Mets are comfortable with giving free agent LHP Jerry Blevins a two-year deal.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays are also said to have interest in the reliever, whose price tag is something along the lines of two-years and $12 million overall.

As well as Blevins, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Mets also have interest in Joe Smith and Sergio Romo.

Blevins, 33, appeared in 73 games out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2016, pitching to a 4-2 record with a 2.79 ERA and 3.05 FIP.

If the Mets could bring back Blevins and someone like Fernando Salas or one of the aforementioned relief pitchers, it will do wonders to sure up their bullpen.

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Ignore The Noise, The Mets Are Going To Be Just Fine Sun, 29 Jan 2017 14:29:52 +0000 gil hodges

Good Morning to all of you. As I sit here enjoying a fresh brewed cup of coffee I can’t believe that in 14 days and most likely less than that, pitchers and catchers will start reporting to Mets camp at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie and a new season will suddenly be upon us.

It’s pretty exciting to say the least, but there’s still a lingering sense of some unfinished business that we need to take care of before we can head into a new season.

Some of the mainstream outlets have graded the Mets offseason at a C or D even though they they handed out the largest contract of the offseason to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. And just this morning, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tabbed the Mets as Losers this offseason:

“You reluctantly could swallow the Jay Bruce resolution, though Michael Conforto’s ceiling stands higher than Bruce’s, if that didn’t also handcuff the Mets’ payroll flexibility to strengthen their bullpen. And don’t forget their 2016 leader in innings pitched, Bartolo Colon, left for Atlanta, and the team is counting on its young (and talented, yes) arms to stay healthy and make up the difference.”

If you think Davidoff is off his rocker, Ben Berkon of Forbes definitely takes the cake with his insanely aggressive ignorance, saying:

“If anything, the Mets’ sudden faith in Bruce as a starter only upholds the organization’s questionable commitment to winning.”

Wow… I really don’t know where to begin…


Look, I totally get the fact that Sandy Alderson may have misread the market for power hitting outfielders. But what general manager, agent or player didn’t misread this market? It was a freak thing that nobody saw coming. But let’s not get all butt hurt just because we’re stuck with a 30+ homer, 100+ RBI bat in the middle of our lineup.

I love Michael Conforto more than just about anyone on this planet and I do realize how keeping Bruce will impact his playing time. So what. That’s life. The fact of the matter is that if Conforto didn’t go all Jekyll and Hyde on us the Mets never would have traded for Bruce in the first place. He’s young and starting the season off in Las Vegas isn’t going to hurt him. Let’s see what happens.

In the meantime, the best thing that could happen is that Bruce busts out with a huge April and May and together with Cespedes propels the Mets to the top of the NL East.

Now as for this prevailing narrative that the Bruce situation has the Mets in a financial stranglehold, none of all this doom and gloom is measuring up to what I’m hearing.

On Thursday, I had a very good source tell me that the Mets were not out on Jerry Blevins and that the two sides were still very much engaged. Then on Friday, I heard that the Mets were one of the most aggressive suitors for Craig Breslow and that they also reached out to Joe Blanton.

Forgive me, but if the Mets were at their financial limit and at a spending freeze why would they be so active in the free agent market for these relievers?

Don’t believe everything Sandy Alderson says about staying internally to fill out the bullpen, this is how he always operates, it’s just GM-speak. The Mets are definitely working the market and trying to find the right fits for the pen. They are one of the most active teams in the relief market right now.

Don’t believe what guys like Ken Davidoff have to say about the state of the Mets. And let me just say that Ben Berkon is an idiot, plain and simple. I can’t believe he said what he did.

The Mets are going to be fine. By the time pitchers and catchers report I’m certain they’ll have at least one if not two solid additions to their bullpen. And however the Jay Bruce situation shakes out, either way it will not impact our ability to win 90+ games in 2017…  And with a little bit of luck we will go on to win the World Series… It’s going to be a fun and exciting season! LGM

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Mets Look to Trust Righty Relievers in Pen Sun, 22 Jan 2017 12:00:15 +0000 hansel robles

The New York Mets have one glaring hole on their roster with just about three weeks left til pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

The bullpen continues to be the target of much talk surrounding this team as they have yet to sign or trade for any notable major league reliever. Names continue to get knocked off the board as we head twoards the 2017 season and Sandy Alderson does not seem too inclined to move on the current market as pointed out by Matt Ehalt of

“I like that we have so much flexibility and so many different options. We go out and sign a reliever we’re locked in. If you go back and look at our history, we haven’t exactly come up cherries on signing free agent relievers and I think that has a lot to do with the volatility they represent,” Alderson said.

“The fact is once you commit to someone that eliminates and detracts from the flexibility we currently have right now and I think we have flexibility with quality.”

Alderson is looking to rely on his right-handed relievers who have performed well against left-handed hitters. Both Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed performed nicely against hitters on both sides of the dish in 2016. One of the more surprising names though who handled lefties with a sense of dominance was Hansel Robles.

Robles held lefties to a .179/.299/.586 batting line this past season. He may be the one pitcher that Alderson and manager Terry Collins look to see continue growth from as part of their reasoning in not signing another reliever. In what once seemed to be a lock, it no longer seems a sure thing that the Mets will sign or trade for any relief.

The Mets though are in need of some help to sure up this pen, especially for a team who will contend. There are some quality options left on the market as our own Michael Mayer pointed out the other day in this article. It would seem silly for Alderson to not bring in some extra help, especially with a lengthy suspension looming over the head of their closer.

Brining back Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas would be a huge boost to their current corps. This is something that Sandy really must look to do at this point as this team cannot afford to have this bullpen as a weakness with too many question marks regarding its starting staff and how long they may pitch into games.

Personally, I would like to see the Mets take a shot on former Royals closer, Greg Holland. He will be looking to prove his worth yet again, coming back from Tommy John surgery and could be quite beneficial on a one-year deal.

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to spring training on February, 13, it will be interesting to see if we are looking at the same bullpen that we currently have now as we ready for opening day of the 2017 season.

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Breakout Prediction: Josh Smoker Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:00:08 +0000 josh smoker

Left-handed reliever Josh Smoker had an impressive 2016. Playing in a very hitter-friendly environment with the Las Vegas 51s, he pitched 57 innings, striking out 81 and walking 18 with a 4.11 ERA. That impressive 12.8 K/9 was blown away, however, when after he was called up to the Bigs, he struck out 25 batters in 15.1 innings (14.7 K/9).

Smoker has the potential to have a breakout 2017. I am not the only one who thinks so, as Steamer projects he will have a 3.10 ERA (3.17 FIP) in 65 innings with an 11.1 K/9 and 0.9 WAR. As he is a lefty, the question many people will ask is: Can he get lefties out?

In his entire career, lefties have a .254 batting average against Smoker while righties have hit .225. He should not be counted on to be a lefty specialist, but trusting him with the 6th or 7th inning shouldn’t be a problem if he pitches close to his potential. He likes to keep the ball away from lefty hitters, rarely pitching inside. If he wants to be more successful against them, he must pitch inside more.

With the trade market for Jay Bruce fizzling each day, it seems more and more likely that a bullpen will have to come from within. I predicted Hansel Robles would breakout in 2017 as well, and if one or both of these guys produce, the Mets will have a very strong bullpen.

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Rob Manfred Looking at Ways to Improve Pace of Play Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:00:07 +0000 manfred-rob

Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, is continuing to explore ways in which he may be able to speed up the pace of play in today’s game. The commish spoke with John Harper of the NY Daily News about the possible ways he may look to do this.

In Minor League baseball, a 20-second pitch clock is utilized to help speed up the pace of play. If a pitcher does not start his windup before this 20-second clock ticks to zero, a ball is awarded to the batter.

“The reason I like the clock is not that I’m looking to force somebody to do something, but I think it is a constant reminder of the need to move things along, and I think that’s really important in terms of dealing with the pace-of-play issues,” Manfred said.

“It’s had great results in the minor leagues. Quantitative data shows that it made the games go faster, but equally important, players don’t complain about it. They get used to it and they work within it.”

This could be a decent rule to implement to the Major League level as it is not too intrusive to changing the integrity of America’s pastime. It will help to speed things along quite a bit while upping the pressure on a pitcher in high leverage situations. No longer will they be able to stalk around the mound and compose themselves while readying to face a batter in a key moment of the game.

On the more controversial front, Manfred has explored limiting the usage of relievers.

“I don’t want to pre-judge these issues. The easiest things to deal with are dead time. How much time does it take a batter to get into the box? How much time is there between pitches? How much time does it take to effectuate a pitching change? There are lots of things around the concept of a pitching change. How quickly does the guy get in from the bullpen? How many warm-up pitches does he need?

“Those are all non-competitive things. When you get into dictating the use of a particular kind of player that affects the competition more directly, you have to go slower.”

The commissioner does not go into detail on what this may look like but it is hard not to ponder what this could mean. Could we see a minimum on how many batters a reliever must face when entering a game? Could this eliminate the lefty specialist who just comes in to face that one batter? It is interesting to think where this may go and how it effects a team’s philosophy of putting together a bullpen.

Pitching changes and pinch hitters have been the ultimate game of chess between opposing managers for years. Changing this rule would certainly be a controversial one to say the least. It though cannot be argued on the impact it may have in the change of pace in a game where at times you may see four pitching changes in just one inning.

With Manfred continually looking for ways to keep baseball up with the times, there is certain to be more changes coming. At times though it also hard not to worry at just how much change Manfred may be looking to do with our favorite game.

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Featured Post: Ben Rowen Might Be Mets’ Diamond In The Rough Tue, 27 Dec 2016 19:15:03 +0000 ben-rowen

This past Thursday, the New York Mets announced a pair of minor league signings of right-handed pitchers Cory Burns and Ben Rowen. Rowen’s contract guarantees him an invite to major league spring training, a sign that the Mets might have legitimate interest in seeing what Rowen and his submarine style pitching can offer the club in 2017.

Rowen, 28, was a 22nd round draft pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2010 MLB Draft. Since then, Rowen has bounced around the minor leagues with different affiliates, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Milwaukee Brewers, his most recent team.

Rowen has spent minimal time in the majors since 2010, getting his first call up with the Rangers in 2014 for eight games, and then this past year with the Brewers for four games. The results were mixed, as evidenced by his 6.94 ERA and 2.06 WHIP, however, it’s hard to gauge those numbers since it was only done with 11.2 innings pitched combined.

His tenure in the minor leagues is a much different story. For his minor league career, Rowen has posted a minuscule 1.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 384.2 innings, recording 43 saves in 53 opportunities. The six-foot-four right-hander has also posted strong splits throughout his MILB career, including this past season with Triple A Buffalo, where Rowen posted a 2.03 ERA and .220 average against left-handers, and a 2.65 ERA with a .269 average against right-handed hitters. In 2015 with Double A Bowie, Rowen once again posted solid splits, 2.16 ERA against lefties and 2.33 ERA against right-handers. In total for his 2015 season, Rowen held opposing right-handers to a .545 OPS, and lefties to a .493 OPS.

Though Rowen’s fastball tops out in the low 80′s, his calling card is his submarine style pitching, and his penchant for inducing ground balls due to his sink on both his fastball and slider. Rowen’s posted at least a 60% ground ball percentage in 11 of 17 different stops along his career, including all minor and major league levels, and winter ball. Rowen has also posted a FIP under 3.00 in 13 of the aforementioned 17 stops in his career.

Rowen has been mastering the submarine pitching style for years now. In a FanGraphs interview conducted in February 2014, Rowen talked about the progression:

“I’ve been throwing submarine for about eight years now. Before that, my high school coach told me to throw sidearm. I think it was a good progression to throw sidearm for four years and then move down. Mechanically, it was easier than going from overhand straight to submarine.”

Add three more seasons to that eight year total, and Rowen has been working at throwing submarine for 11 years now, something that should appeal to the Mets since it appears Rowen is comfortable with his mechanics. With experience on his side, Rowen just needs an opportunity with a big club to showcase what he can offer over a full 162-game season. And that’s where the Mets fit in to this narrative.

The Mets have been looking to bolster their bullpen for 2017, especially considering closer Jeurys Familia will likely be suspended for his role in a domestic violence arrest in late October. The Daily News’ Kristie Ackert reported Friday that industry sources believe Familia will be suspended for at least 30 games next season, the same number of games Aroldis Chapman was suspended for to start the 2016 year.

With Addison Reed likely sliding into the closer’s role to begin the year, the Mets need to fill the back end of the bullpen and also look to retain LHP Jerry Blevins, who held lefties to a .636 OPS in ’16, and has also pitched with solid splits throughout his career. The Mets have balked at the free agent market thus far, seeing the likes of Brad Ziegler, Fernando Rodney, Koji Uehara, Mike Dunn, Brett Cecil, and Joaquin Benoit sign with other clubs.

Though there are some strong free agent names still left on the board, the Mets are always looking for undervalued or minor league deals for relievers. The market has risen over the past few years, where clubs are placing a higher emphasis on having strong bullpens, following in the footsteps of teams like the Giants, Royals, Indians and Cubs.

While the minor league signings of Rowen and Burns CANNOT be the only bullpen moves Sandy Alderson and Co. makes, Rowen does offer a ton of intrigue and should be given a decent look this spring in Port St. Lucie. No, he’s not Brad Ziegler, an arm many fans were pining to get, however, Rowen offers similar traits (sidearm, ground ball rate) and should be given a chance to demonstrate to the Mets what he can do to help piece their pen together for 2017.

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Sandy Must Adjust Relief Pitching Philosophy Mon, 26 Dec 2016 12:30:11 +0000 100915-mlb-toronto-relief-pitcher-brett-cecil-throws-a-pitch-mm-pi-vresize-1200-675-high-22

This is not a Sandy bashing article, though it seems like some fans take any criticism at all of the general manager as sacrilege.

Sandy Alderson has done some great things as the GM of the Mets—holding onto Noah Syndergaard while some screamed for the minor leaguer to be traded for Ian Desmond, bringing in and keeping Yoenis Cespedes to reasonable contracts, and turning some veterans into young talented players. But Sandy Alderson has got to adjust his mindset when it comes to relief pitchers.

The Mets as configured are a team reliant on starting pitching. Twenty five teams produced more runs than the Mets last year and we go into 2017 with the same offensive weapons as 2016. Our defense? We didn’t have a single player even be a finalist for a gold glove and are below average at the catching position, centerfield (when Juan Lagares is not playing) and first base, with no position where we are substantially above average other than left field.

The starting pitchers need help, and that has to come from the bullpen. Yet, Sandy Alderson announces at a time when relief pitchers are the hottest commodity on the market that he won’t go as long as two years for a relief pitcher.

Somehow Sandy stood by this statement even as Brett Cecil, a left handed specialist who was 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 2016, signed a 4 year $30 million deal with the Cardinals. Even as Daniel Hudson, coming off a season he appeared in 70 games and produced a 5.22 ERA with the Diamondbacks, signed a 2 year – $11 million deal with the Pirates.

I am not suggesting that these were contracts that we should have tried to match—far from it. These contracts should be an indicator to the current market for a quality relief pitcher.

Brad Ziegler would have been a fantastic addition to the Mets bullpen. He has a career 2.44 ERA and has been even better of late, throwing to a 1.85 ERA in 2015 and a 2.25 ERA in 2016. Several articles linked the Mets to him, but we watched him sign a two year deal with the Marlins because of how Sandy feels about two year deals for relief pitchers.

How about bringing back Jerry Blevins? We need a lefty specialist and he pitched effectively with the Mets in 2016, to a 2.79 ERA. Surely Sandy won’t leave the role of our left handed specialist to the unproven bunch behind him in 2016 (Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin, and, gulp, Sean Gilmartin)? Well, Jerry Blevins is said to be seeking a three year deal, so unless Sandy makes an exception to his philosophy or changes it all together, that is not happening.

The playoffs put on display the importance of the bullpen. The Mets currently have two solid and reliable arms in the pen—and one could be suspended for the first 30 games of 2017. The time when relief pitchers are failed starters is long over. First the Royals dominated the American League—and beat the Mets—on the strength of their bullpen. Last year the Cubs and Indians showed what a strong bullpen can do in a World Series for the ages.

It is time for Sandy to reassess his position on signing relief pitchers to long term deals, and bring in some arms we need—Even it if means for two or three years.

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Update On Free Agent Reliever Market Thu, 22 Dec 2016 20:55:55 +0000 jerry-blevins-mets-win

The New York Mets remain in need of bullpen help with their only additions so far being righties Ben Rowen and Cory Burns on minor league deals.

Closer Jeurys Familia could still be suspended by Major League Baseball despite the charges against him being dropped. The Mets also have two holes in their bullpen with Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas being free agents after playing important roles during the 2016 season.

With Kenley Jansen re-signing with the Los Angleles Dodgers the big three closers are now off the board. After missing out on Jansen, the Miami Marlins went out and signed Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa.

The latest reliever to sign was righty Daniel Hudson with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this week for two years, $11 million. Last week, the Chicago Cubs finalized a deal with veteran reliever Koji Uehara to go along with closer Wade Davis, who they previously acquired from the Kansas City Royals.

Mike Dunn signed a lucrative three-year, $19 million with the Colorado Rockies. He joins lefties Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski who have been pleased with deals given out to left-handed relievers.

Blevins is now the best lefty reliever available on the market and seems destined to get the three-year deal he seeks. Sandy Alderson has made it pretty clear that he would like to have Blevins back, but certainly not willing to give him three years.

boone logan

The lefty market is getting pretty scarce with one of the best remaining options being Boone Logan. The Mets have shown interest in the veteran that held lefties to a .142/.222/.255 slash line in 2016. The Baltimore Orioles reportedly covet Logan who should get at least a two-year deal given current market conditions.

Other lefties still available include veterans J.P. Howell, Chris Capuano, Travis Wood and Javier Lopez.  Wood was the best of the group against lefties in 2016 holding them to a .447 OPS in 120 plate appearances.

The buzz surrounding Salas has been quiet this offseason despite a great finish for the Mets in which he had a 2.07 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and didn’t walk a single batter in 17.1 innings.

Trevor Cahill is currently being pursued by six teams according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The right-hander can be a swingman and struck out 66 batters in 65.2 innings last year, but that also came with 35 walks.

Possibly the most intriguing reliever left on the market is former Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland. He has received interest from a large number of teams including the Washington Nationals who missed out on the big three.

Other right-handed relievers still free agents that could help the Mets include Sergio Romo (career WHIP under 1.00), Neftali Feliz (10.2 K/9 in 2016), Joe Blanton (2.48 ERA in 2016), Santiago Casilla (69 saves over past two seasons), Drew Storen (1.59 ERA in last 18 games), and Joe Smith (2.93 career ERA).

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Four Low-Cost Potential Starting Pitching Targets Thu, 15 Dec 2016 17:00:38 +0000 MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz are coming off season ending surgeries, and the Mets most likely don’t want them making over 30 starts and/or going over 200 innings. The Mets need someone to fill-in for those starts and eat up some innings.

Additionally, the team needs a fifth starter. If the season was going to begin today, the fifth starter would be determined by a competition between Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Both pitchers showed enough to prove they deserve the job out of Spring Training. However, both pitchers are likely going to be on innings limits, which would prevent them from pitching the entire 2017 season unless the team skips a couple of their starts. That reverts back to the issue created by Harvey, deGrom, and Matz that the Mets need another arm to eat up some innings.

Naturally, the hope is that Zack Wheeler could be the fifth starter at some point during the season. However, after missing two straight seasons due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets would be hard pressed to rely upon him to provide anything during the 2017 season. It is a large reason why the Mets have at least discussed the possibility of putting Wheeler in the bullpen to start the season.

Pitchers like Sean Gilmartin and Gabriel Ynoa did not show the Mets enough in 2016 to prove they can be relied upon to make more than one or two spot starts. With that, it is likely the Mets are going to need to look outside the organization for a pitcher who is willing to start the year as a fifth starter, but is willing to transition to the bullpen as the year progresses. Ultimately, the Mets are looking for someone to reprise the role that Bartolo Colon was slated to serve during the 2016 season. With that in mind, here are some available free agent pitchers who could serve in that role:

Rubby De La Rosa

2016 Stats: 4-5, 4.26 ERA, 13 G, 10 GS, 50.2 IP, 1.243 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

While Welington Castillo got most of the publicity, De La Rosa was another surprise non-tender by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The reason De La Rosa was non-tendered was because there remains a real possibility he needs a second Tommy John surgery.  At the moment, he has been trying to use stem cell treatment as a means to circumvent the surgery.  For what it is worth, Bartolo Colon used the stem cell therapy back in 2010, and he was able to revive his major league career.

When he is healthy, De La Rosa has a live arm with him throwing a mid to high 90s fastball with a curve and slider who has shown some flashes of dominance. De La Rosa does have issues walking batters in his career, but it should be noted he was pitching to the aforementioned Castillo who is a terrible pitch framer.

Assuming the stem cell therapy will work, and further assuming De La Rosa is ready by Opening Day, the 27-year old needs a team who will help him harness his stuff and a catching staff that will help him get those borderline pitches. With that in mind, there are few places that are better fits for De La Rosa than the Mets. At a minimum, the Mets can offer the young pitcher at least a chance to pitch in the rotation while also assuring him a spot in the bullpen where he could become a lights out reliever.

Scott Feldman

2016 Stats: 7-4, 3.97 ERA, 40 G, 5 GS, 77.0 IP, 1.377 WHIP, 6.5 K/9

While Feldman has spent the majority of his career as a league average starting pitcher, the Astros moved Feldman into the bullpen in the 2016 season, and Feldman pitched well for the team in that role. What is interesting about Feldman’s success was he didn’t throw any differently out of the bullpen than he did as a starter. The main reason is that in his career as a starter, batters tend to hit Feldman much harder the third time through the lineup.

Overall, Feldman’s numbers would have been much better had he not struggled in his 14 appearances for the Blue Jays. In those 14 appearances, he pitched to an 8.40 ERA and a 1.933 WHIP. It might have just been a slump or a poor mix with the Blue Jays because Feldman has not wilted under pressure in his career. In nine postseason relief appearances, Feldman is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9.

Given Feldman’s ability to pitch as a league average starter, and his being even more effective out of the bullpen, Feldman could very well be the exact pitcher the Mets need in 2017.

Edwin Jackson

2016 Stats: 5-7, 5.89 ERA, 21 G, 13 GS, 84.0 IP, 1.583 WHIP, 6.5 K/9

For nearly 14 years, there have been 11 franchises that have taken on the mantle of being the franchise that is going to be able to figure out Jackson and help him unlock his potential. With a career losing record and a 4.65 ERA, none have been successful, and now the 32 year old is a free agent.

There is no doubt Jackson has talent. He is a five pitch pitcher that predominantly relies upon a low to mid 90s fastball and a slider. Through his tenure as the Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen has been successful in helping pitchers like Jackson. Like many of the other pitchers on this list, Jackson should be aided by the Mets pitch framing. The combination of Warthen and the pitch framing has been shown to help a number of pitchers who have come to the Mets the past few seasons.

Over the last two seasons, Jackson has also begun pitching out of the bullpen. In 2015, he showed some promise in the role making 47 appearances while going 4-3 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.168 WHIP. He would limit batters to a .218/.291/.332 batting line. Unfortunately, he regressed as a reliever in 2016 after he had failed again as a starter. Overall, as is the story with most of Jackson’s career, there is promise here, and a union with the Mets could be mutually beneficial.

Kris Medlen

2016 Stats: 1-3, 7.77 ERA, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.055 WHIP, 6.7 K/9

Medlen has gone from a promising young pitcher with the Atlanta Braves to a pitcher whose career is a crossroads with him being limited during the 2016 season with shoulder issues. While these shoulder issues did not require surgery, they limited Medlen in 2016, and it had an impact on his performance. Another issue with Medlen is his having two Tommy John surgeries.

With that said, when Medlen is right, he is a good pitcher. His last year with the Braves, before he needed a second TJS, he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA, 1.223 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. In 2015, his first year back from his second TJS, Medlen was 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, and a 6.2 K/9 between eight starts and seven relief appearances. In the 2015 postseason, he made two appearances pitching six innings with a 3.00 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, and a 12.0 K/9.

If the medicals check out, Medlen can be a very effective pitcher for someone. Considering the need to get a pitcher comfortable in the rotation and the bullpen, the Mets might be a good fit.

There is certainly any number of places the Mets could go this offseason. There are pitchers like Matt Harrison who are injury risks, but who can also be dominant pitchers when healthy. There are also reclamation projects like Jered Weaver and Tim Lincecum. Overall, there are many different ways to go. At this point, the Mets just need to identify their guy, be patient, and let the market develop. Once it does, the Mets could obtain a pitcher who could very well help eat some innings during the 2017 season.

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Is Sean Doolittle a Fit for the Mets? Thu, 15 Dec 2016 11:00:46 +0000 usatsi_7948323_168380427_lowres

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Washington Nationals may turn their sights to Oakland Athletics left-handed reliever, Sean Doolittle, as they continue to search for a closer.

With the possibility of Doolittle being available, it may behoove the New York Mets to take a look at him themselves as they look to solidify the back end of their bullpen.

Doolittle, 30, has been quite a steady reliever over the last few years. He had an injury shortened 2016 season, pitching to a 3.23 ERA with a WHIP of 1.05 while appearing in just 44 games.

Over his five-year career, Doolittle has logged 231.2 innings while pitching to a 3.07 ERA with a spectacular WHIP of 0.95. He has not had too many closing opportunities since 2014, a career year for himself, where he pitched to a 2.73 ERA with a WHIP of 0.73 while accumulating 22 saves.

There was a stark difference though in how he fared against left-handed hitters compared to right-handed hitters last season. In 2016, lefties hit to a batting average of just .206 against Doolittle while righties hit to an average of .250. He pitched to a 4.29 ERA against righties, while pitching to just a 2.00 ERA against lefties.

Over his career though he has been close to equal against batters from both sides of the plate. With lefties hitting to a .195 average against him in his career and righties hitting to a .215 average.

It is unknown at this time as far as what Oakland may be looking for in return for Doolittle. For the Mets though, a bullpen piece is one of the last pieces of the puzzle they need to complete their roster and Doolittle could fill two holes with being a southpaw as well as someone you can use at the back end of the game.

The Mets are sure to make a move for a reliever at some point over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see if they may look to make a trade such as this or head to the free agent market once some cash is freed up.

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Should Zack Wheeler Follow the John Smoltz Model? Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:00:18 +0000 zack wheeler

Since the 2014 season ended, Zack Wheeler has thrown exactly zero pitches in the major leagues. First, it was because he needed Tommy John surgery on the eve of the 2015 season. Then, it was because he had a series of setbacks during this rehab from said surgery throughout the 2016 season. With that, the Mets have no idea what they are going to get from Wheeler during the 2017 season.

Here is one thing you do know you are not going to get from him: 200 innings. Asking Wheeler to make 30+ starts and pitch 200 innings is unrealistic, and it is unfair. Realistically speaking, putting any expectations on him is unfair.

Quite possibly, the best thing for Wheeler for the 2017 season is to transition to the bullpen and have the Mets monitor his usage. In essence, the Mets could go into the 2017 season enacting a set of Joba Rules for Wheeler. It is a concept Sandy Alderson floated this offseason saying:

“But it may be that coming back after two years, he’s better off pitching out of the ‘pen. He might have to be careful. He might not be able to pitch back-to-back. It might have to be two innings at a time. These are all hypothetical at the moment, but I don’t see any reason to just eliminate the possibility.”

Better put, it is time to give Wheeler the John Smoltz treatment.

Back in 2000, Smoltz had missed the entire season also due to season ending Tommy John surgery. On the Jonah Keri Podcast, Smoltz stated the Atlanta Braves only wanted him to return as a closer, and because he wanted to remain a Brave, he did what was requested of him.

During his time as a closer, Smoltz stated he learned about mentally what it meant to close. Notably, Smoltz stated he did not change the way he pitched when he closed games. Smoltz focused on throwing strikes more than maxing out and trying to strike everyone out. It is notable that Smoltz was able to save 55 games in 2001, which was his first season back from Tommy John.

While Wheeler won’t be closing with the presence of Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed, there is room for him in the bullpen. Putting him in the bullpen would allow him to go out there and re-learn how to pitch in one to two inning increments. It will allow him to rebuild himself as a pitcher much in the way Smoltz had done. Wheeler could focus on throwing strikes, which has always been an issue for him, and it will allow him to mentally prepare himself to get those big outs in a game. More importantly, it presents an avenue for Wheeler to help the Mets return to the postseason and win a World Series.

What is notable about following the Smoltz model is the fact that Smoltz sees a lot of himself in Wheeler. Previously on MLB Now, Smoltz stated Wheeler was the one pitcher in the major leagues right now that most reminds him of himself. In making the comparison, Smoltz noted some factors including the repetoire and Wheeler’s use of the inverted W. Another factor for the comparison was the player’s respective injury history. The main difference between the two, aside from Smoltz being a Hall of Famer, was Smoltz’s ability to make adjustments and Smoltz’s having pitched out of the bullpen.

As we have seen, pitching out of the bullpen not only helped Smoltz become an important part of the Braves after his rehab, it also helped prolong his career. The Smoltz model is one that has proven to be successful, and it proved it is not an impediment to returning to the starting rotation. With that in mind, this could be the preferable route to reintegrating Wheeler back to this Mets team.

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Mets Asked Rays About Alex Colome Tue, 13 Dec 2016 21:27:10 +0000 c1s_colomepumped082215_15744217_8col

Peter Gammons tweeted that the Mets asked the Tampa Bay Rays about talented young closer Alex Colome.

According to Gammons, the Rays said the deal had to start with either Amed Rosario or Michael Conforto.

Colome, 27, saved 37 games for the Rays in 2016, pitching to a 1.91 ERA while striking out 71 batters in 56.2 innings. He also made his first All Star team.

While the Mets have said they are willing to move prospects for bullpen help, I don’t think Rosario or Conforto was what they had in mind.

The Nationals are another team that is scouring the market for bullpen help, but they need it a lot more than the Mets do. After missing out on Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen (who took $5 million less to return to the Dodgers), they will either try to sign a free agent option (Greg Holland or Brad Ziegler), or trade for a closer (David Robertson or Alex Colome).

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Reed Should Have Continued Success Closing Sat, 10 Dec 2016 13:30:35 +0000 addison-reed

While Sandy Alderson and the front office continue to scour the market for bullpen help via free agency and through trades, the Mets feel confident in their closer heading into 2017.

No, not Jeurys Familia, who will likely be suspended to begin the 2017 season due to his arrest for his role in a domestic violence dispute on Halloween in Fort Lee, NJ. Instead, the Mets intend to slide setup man Addison Reed into the closer’s role, one he’s familiar with from his time with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Reed, 28 on December 27, had a brilliant 2016 season as the Mets’ setup man, posting career highs in games pitched (80), ERA (1.97), IP (77.2), strikeouts (91), WHIP (0.94), and OPS against (.536). His 2.6 fWAR was tied for fifth among all relievers in ’16, with only names like Jansen, Miller, Betances, and Chapman ahead of him.

Before the trade that sent Reed to the Mets in late August of 2015 for minor league pitchers Matt Koch and Miller Diaz, Reed was the closer for both the White Sox and Diamondbacks, compiling 101 saves from 2012-14, posting a 4.22 ERA with 9.5 SO/9 during that period. While the 101 saves was good for ninth among relievers, his ERA was the 16th worst among qualifying arms. Although, his FIP was 3.58, indicating that he might’ve been subjected to some bad luck and/or poor fielding or defensive alignments.

So why did it take so long for Reed to blossom into the dominating force he’s been for the Mets? Taking a closer look at Reed’s velocity and pitch selection, per Brooks Baseball, Reed’s four-seam fastball velocity in 2011-12 was over 95 MPH. Over the next four seasons, Reed watched his velocity dip to 93.22 MPH this year, however, Reed’s whiff percentage has risen since 2015, registering 9.09 followed by a 10.75 this past season, the highest it’s been since 2014. Reed’s also seen his slugging percentage against shrink over the past three years, from .423 in 2014, to .421 in ’15, to a career low .319 in ’16.

Reed’s slider has also been a useful weapon for the right-hander, as he’s using it more as a put away pitch than he has in years past. In 2014, Reed went to the slider 236 times, then saw a huge hike in ’15 with 321 times, followed by 329 in ’16. In 2012 and ’13, Reed’s whiff percentage on his slider was at 12.88 and 18.81 respectively, in ’16, Reed had a 20.97 whiff percentage on the slider, another career best. His .185 batting average against on his slider was also a career best for Reed in ’16, resulting in a 60.78 ground ball percentage.


Another important aspect to Reed’s success with the Mets is the mechanical adjustments he’s made on his leg kick, or should I say, lack thereof. As early as mid 2015, Reed pitched with a pronounced leg kick, bringing his knee up to his belt before delivering to the plate. But while Reed was stationed in Triple A Reno in 2015, as the Diamondbacks demoted their closer due to inconsistencies in the majors and watched as his ERA ballooned to 7.20 by mid May, Reed and the Diamondbacks’ staff made a compromise.

“We kind of met in the middle,” Reed said. “Not the high leg kick, not the slide step but lifting it quick and just going. That kind of got me a little bit more going into my delivery and going as opposed to the slide step, you’re just falling forward. This kind of got me to gather everything on my back leg and then shoot toward home plate.” (Beyond the Boxscore)

The change in Reed’s mechanics allow him to gather momentum on his back leg and fire towards home plate. The change in mechanics have also given Reed better control, as he posted a 1.51 BB/9, the lowest it’s been since his brief cup of coffee with the White Sox in 2011. Reed posted his best first pitch strike percentage in ’16, at 70.1%, according to FanGraphs.

Mechanics, pitch selection, and change of scenery have all helped Reed regain his form and be a dominating reliever in baseball. Because of this, the Mets should enter 2017 with peace of mind in the ninth, as his turnaround over the last year and change signals that the Mets have rolled the dice and won in their low risk/high reward gamble with Reed. Terry Collins spoke to MLB Network this past Tuesday and offered similar sentiments when it comes to Reed in the ninth, saying he was confident Reed can handle the ninth and get the job done.

Of course, the off-season is far from over, as the team needs to add additional relievers along with looking to re-sign Jerry Blevins. Adding a trusted arm to take Reed’s spot setting up is still a priority for the club, and it will only strengthen the team as Familia comes back from his likely suspension, giving the Mets a potentially dynamic back end of the pen.

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Alderson Expects Decreased Payroll By Opening Day Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:45:57 +0000 sandy-alderson-2

According to ESPN‘s Adam Rubin, Sandy Alderson “all but acknowledged” that the Opening Day payroll will be lower than it is at this point in the offseason.

Currently, the payroll is estimated to be around $150 million. Once the Mets trade Jay Bruce ($13M) or Curtis Granderson ($15M), that payroll will shrink by an amount dependent on who the Mets get in return.

Those huge contracts probably will not be completely reinvested in the bullpen, ruling out an expensive reliever such as David Robertson (2 years, $25M remaining).

You can expect one or two solid, cheaper additions to the bullpen in the near future, whether it be in a trade with the Rangers or someone else.

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