A Revolutionary Bullpen Model

syn-er-gy n. The increased effectiveness that occurs when two or more people or elements in a system produce and effort different from or greater than the sum of the individual effects.

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The most recent turn of events in a topsy-turvy New York Met baseball season has infused new energy in the team and their fan base. Three young power arms in the Mets bullpen have turned the late innings of Met games from a baseball horror show to must-see-tv.

jenrry mejiaJeurys Familia, Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia are showing the Mets that with dynamic outputs from its bullpen, any baseball team, even a team with less than average offensive outputs, can achieve unexpected performance results. You just need high octane fuel in the bullpen gas tank to have the right key to turn performance around.

The evolution of the young Met bullpen guns, especially the transformation of Jenrry Mejia from a starting pitcher to a late game reliever and the elevation of Black from Triple-A, blurred the traditional roles mapped out for relievers in the bullpen. The Mets temporarily sidestepped naming seventh and eighth inning bridges to the ninth inning closer, instead electing to address the needs of each game utilizing whatever resource was rested, ready and available even if that sometimes meant stretching a reliever’s outing to two innings instead of the standard one.

Reviewing the Mets recent relief pitching success, I hope Terry Collins continues to show flexibility in his use of his bullpen working under the premise that the Mets are a better team when the best individual performance of one of their relievers in the bullpen does not outperform the team’s performance.

There is something almost magical about the mindset that comes with three young guns taking on all challengers by pooling their talents to flexibly addresses any situation and any obstacle. “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back,” becomes a team norm as team members begin to take more pride in the achievements of the group than in their individual accomplishments.

jeurys familia

A collaborative bullpen model has the advantage of building strong emotional bonds, a common characteristic of highly successful teams.

Strong emotional bonds fortify connections between the people on the team, the results you hope to achieve and you’re identity as a team.

The third connection is something I would love to see of the young Met relief corp, a sense of pride and a swagger that says working together as interchangeable parts Familia, Black and Mejia together equal more than three.

The use of dual closers is not something new to the Mets, even though a trio of indistinguishable power pitchers to set up and close out games would be unique. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and then again in the mid 1980’s the Mets used a pair of closers. The idea then was to utilize a right handed and left-handed specialist; a Ron Taylor and Tug McGraw or a Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco. Taylor and McGraw almost split saves equally in 1969 and 1970 before McGraw became the primary closer in the ’72 season. McDowell and Orosco followed the exact same script in 1986..

My idea is to go beyond that, to utilize the young Met bullpen guns so each builds the confidence and swagger to take the call to fill any role when needed, a synergistic model that supports a more empowered way of working that promotes a sense of achievement, a sense of invincibility and camaraderie that’s the stuff of a team that consistently performs when it matters the most. That’s the perfect prescription for a championship bullpen.


About John Bernhardt 164 Articles
MMO Minor League Analyst John Bernhardt is a retired public school teacher and administrator, who still coaches high school baseball. Growing up in a Yankees household, Bernhardt was an ardent Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fan. When the Yankees fired Yogi in his first season as the Bomber manager, curiosity turned to passion when the Mets signed Berra as a player/coach and he has pulled for the Mets ever since. In retirement, John writes the sports for a local weekly, The Catskill Mountain News and hosts Tip-Off, a Friday morning sports hour, from 8:00-9:00 on WIOX, 91.3 F.M.