Following the return of Jenrry Mejia from a PED suspension that cost him 80 games , the Mets had every reason to expect that they had an important portion of their bullpen “bridge” available, at least for the balance of the regular season. With Jeurys Familia firmly entrenched as the team’s closer and a number of apparently effective if somewhat unproven options for the middle innings, Mejia was slated to take on Familia’s former role as eighth-inning stalwart. Looking ahead to the very real possibility of post-season play, Sandy Alderson presciently had put into the works a deal for Tyler Clippard with the assumption that his presence would both fortify the back end of the pen for what remained of the regular season and provide a ready option for the post-season should the Mets qualify.
Mejia’s subsequent implosion by way of steroidal recidivism scuttled those plans as soon as they were made and left the front office making efforts to compensate that have proven somewhat suspect. Subsequent additions Eric O’Flaherty (an apparent stretch to somewhat fill the gap left by Jerry Blevins‘ early departure) and Addison Reed (a gamble based on 16 or so innings of decent performance following a demotion for a season-long lack therof) have looked less than promising so far, particularly in O’Flaherty’s case. To be fair, Reed’s tenure as a Met has been quite short, but his stints on the mound have been uneven and his stuff has certainly appeared to be less than dominating. With the stretch run in full swing at this point, the team can hardly afford to entrust either of these admittedly veteran options in critical situations.
So where to turn? The answer in my opinion is rather obvious and has only been made a question by Terry Collins‘ seeming lack of faith in those members of his relief corps whose track records are lacking at the major league level. I refer primarily to Hansel Robles, but also to Erik Goeddel. An examination of the numbers for both of these players reveals exactly the type of performance needed to fill the gap left by a typical Met starter who, in 2015, has worked an average of around 6 and 1/3 innings per start. Robles, despite the occasional bump in the road, has put up stats that are clearly dominating overall, particularly over his past 30 appearances. With a K/BB ratio of 4/1 and a WHIP of .85, he has clearly demonstrated that his combination of a high 90’s moving fastball and 88-90 mph slider are the type of arsenal needed to short-circuit rallies and more importantly, choke them off before they get started. Add to this his LaTroy Hawkins‘ inspired quick-pitch routine (which appears to be both flummoxing and infuriating opposing batters) to go with a seemingly unflappable and fearless mound demeanor, and it seems to me that the Mets have had their seventh inning guy all along.
Goeddel’s numbers are impressive as well, though a shade less so, and the somewhat mysterious quality of his recent arm woes and the accompanying uncertainty regarding his future reliability makes him an asset that, while still clearly useful, one that could apparently disappear at any time. Still, as they say, “smoke ’em if you got ’em.”
With Collins’ penchant for riding his main bullpen arms like Man ‘O War and an understandable desire to milk whatever he can from the questionable options he has been provided, the team will need to find consistent performances from its less-heralded members wherever possible. Add to this mix Dario Alvarez if you will, who, in my mind, deserves at least the number of chances to show what he can do that O’Flaherty has received, and perhaps a true lefty specialist can be added to the equation. It hardly seems that it could hurt to find out.