At 31 years old, Carlos Torres has established himself as the Mets most reliable workhorse out of the bullpen. Last night, Torres made his 42nd appearance of the season in the team’s 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He contributed one inning of scoreless relief, dropping his season’s ERA to 2.93.
In the early stages of the Sandy Alderson era, the team struggled to develop and construct a successful bullpen. After sending the daily headache that was K-Rod to Milwaukee in the summer of 2011, Alderson invested greatly in shoring up what was at the time, one of the team’s greatest flaws. In 2011, the Mets 4.33 bullpen ERA ranked 28th in the MLB with a matching 28th best .267 BAA.
In an attempt to bolster the pen, Alderson dealt Angel Pagan to the Giants for RHP Ramon Ramirez and OF Andres Torres. In 58 games for the Mets in 2012, Ramirez was 3-4 with 4.24 ERA. Additionally, Alderson signed closer Frank Francisco to an egregious 2 year, $12M contract. Considering 2013 a complete wash for the reliever, Francisco garnered only 23 saves for the Mets in 2012 while sporting a laughable 5.53 ERA. Somehow, someway the Mets 28th ranked bullpen managed to get worse, finishing with an ERA of 4.65. Only the Brewers, 4.66 ERA was worse.
However, since 2013 the Mets bullpen appears to be steadily improving. Last season, the Mets bullpen ranked 22nd in the MLB with a 3.98 ERA. This year, they are currently 9th with a team bullpen ERA of 3.25. In three years, the bullpen’s BAA has dropped from .267 to .240.
Certainly, much of the bullpen’s ascension from the depths of the league cellar have to do with the development of young arms such as Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia. However, perhaps no one has played a bigger role in the bullpen’s reversal than Carlos Torres.
Drafted in the 15th round of the 2004 MLB draft by the White Sox out of Kansas State University, Carlos Torres had an unremarkable career before signing with the Mets. In two years with Chicago and one year with Colorado, Torres sported a horrendous 6.06 career ERA. He even spent the 2011 season pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
When Alderson signed Torres to a minimal deal prior to the 2013 season, the 30 year old was pitching for his baseball life.
In 2013 Torres proved versatile and effective for the ball club. Torres appeared in 33 games for the Mets and made 9 starts. He pitched to a 4-6 record with an ERA of 3.44.
This year, Carlos Torres has solidified himself as the Mets go to guy out of the bullpen. His 978 pitches thrown in relief are by far the most in the MLB this season. Adam Warren of the Yankees ranks second with 856. His 58.1 innings in relief also lead the league, ahead of Oakland’s Dan Otero (55.2 IP).
At 4-4 with a 2.93 ERA, Torres has done more than just eat up innings for the Mets. He has pitched effectively in a wide variety of scenarios, justifying his use in any and all circumstances. He has finished 12 games, collected 2 saves and is by far the team’s best option for long relief in a pinch. When Jon Niese went down with an injury last week, Torres threw 81 pitches and was back out on the mound two days later.
It is safe to say that Torres arrival in New York has been mutually beneficial. He has helped reshape the Mets beleaguered bullpen and in the process he has dropped his 6.06 career ERA to a far more respectable 4.32. Though he may be rolled out to the mound until his arm literally falls off, in the meantime his contributions to this team and his value to the bullpen are to be commended.