Exit Starting Pitcher, Enter Heartbreak

A little less than two years ago, the Mets bullpen was heralded as the most elite in the National League. It was set up perfectly and had all of the elements that constructed an ideal committee to spell the tired starting pitching staff. My how times have changed!
When a starter visibly didn’t have his stuff to get the job done on a given day, Darren Oliver was ready in a moments notice. In 81 innings pitched he posted a 3.44 earned run average. These days you can find Oliver at the front of the best bullpen in the game, that of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2008 he has a 2.84 ERA in 67 innings pitched. We have Nelson Figueroa!
Who could ever forget the tag team of Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano? Since 2006 it has become the newly formed duo of Feliciano along with Joe Smith. Bradford pitched to a 2.90 ERA in the Mets 2006 drive to the pennant, mainly as a righty specialist. Between time with the Baltimore Orioles and the surging Tampa Bay Rays, 2008 has seen Bradford throw 55 innings to the tune of a 2.11 ERA.
The most inflated ERA of any pitcher in the Mets 2006 bullpen was Aaron Heilmans 3.62 mark. To some astonishment, Scott Schoeneweis has the lowest earned run mar k in 2008 at 3.04 in 55 innings pitched, the next lowest is Smiths 3.56 mark. No other active Metropolitan reliever has an ERA under 4, which is just disgraceful.
The song goes, where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Mets fans have been singing the tune of where have you gone Aaron Heilman? Coming into this season he was assumed to be the most consistent and reliable bullpen force the team possessed aside from Billy Wagner. It is absolutely surreal to believe the same man who Willie Randolph called on in game seven on the 2006 NLCS to get the most important out of the year, is almost certainly going to be left off of the 2008 playoff roster, should the Mets attain that luxury.
Sure Heilman had respectable stats in 2007, but it appears to me, the confident swagger that Aaron once took to the mound with him was damned to hell, along with the hanging pitch sent into the cool crisp October air on Yadier Molina’s game winning home run in 2006.
Certainly times indeed have changed in two years time. The unquestioned strong suite was once the bullpen, but 2008, it has been the achillies heel. If the Mets do miss the playoffs the blame can squarely be placed on the shoulders of arguably the most abominable bullpen the organization has ever put together. One thing is for certain, aside from Smith, do not be shocked if there is not one relief pitcher carried over to next years ball club. Fasten your seatbelts, these last ten games are certain to be the most grueling moments in recent memory.