The Mets bullpen has a chance to be much better than the one that the Mets made it to the World Series with last year. If Jerry Blevins can stay on the field, and keep his balance on those dangerous curbs, the Mets have the viable left-handed specialist that they missed all of last year.
Jeurys Familia is one of the best closers in baseball, so as long as the Mets can get him the ball with a lead they will win a lot of ball games. The most obvious hole in last year’s pen was bridging that gap from the starting pitching to Familia. Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed were brought in to fill that role, but after great starts both seemed to falter as the season wore on and the postseason began.
Coming into this season, it will remain to be seen who will get the 7th and 8th inning roles and safely get the ball to Familia with a lot more consistency than last season. But there’s good reason for hope.
Antonio Bastardo was brought in this offseason to be a late inning option, Bastardo has the potential to be electric which is evident by his career 11.0 K/9. The problem that Bastardo has run into throughout his career is that he can get himself into trouble by walking a lot of batters.
Addison Reed was retained for this season and will get the early opportunities to setup Familia. Reed had an impressive 1.17 ERA in 17 games with the Mets last year but was awful in the World Series giving up four runs in 3.2 innings of work. The Mets have one final option who could be a setup reliever for Familia – and that would be fellow Dominican Hansel Robles.
The man who has become known for his quick pitch may have the highest upside of any reliever in the Mets bullpen this year. Robles features a fastball that can reach the upper 90’s and a hard slider with good movement. Robles was an unsung hero of last year’s bullpen as he appeared in 57 games after replacing the suspended Jenrry Mejia and posted a 3.67 ERA while leading the team with 12 holds.
Robles, 25, also appeared in more games last season than any reliever other than Carlos Torres, who was released this offseason, and Jeurys Familia. Robles came on strong last year, but from August 23 through the end of the season he only gave up 5 earned runs in 17 innings of work with 24 strikeouts while holding batters to a .148 average and .224 OBP. He followed that up by pitching three scoreless innings in the postseason with four strikeouts. An even more experienced and polished Hansel Robles might just be the X-Factor for the the bullpen’s success in 2016.