Even with the Mets strong play this season, and with them leading in the National League East, there have been some issues that have begun to arise with this team. Aside from the slumps, which many people believe will work themselves out as we saw with Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce homering last night, there are some more pressing issues many believe the Mets need to address. In the latest edition of the MMO Mailbag, we tackle how to help alleviate a heavy bullpen workload and what to do with the catching situation:
@baseballgods16 asks . . .
John S. replies . . .
There are a few different reasons why the bullpen has been over-worked this early season, but until this question, I had not considered how the starting pitchers were lined up in the rotation. Now contemplating it further, this idea has some merit. Look at the innings per start for each of the Mets starting pitchers:
With the notable exceptions of deGrom, who has been great, and Wheeler, who had one hiccup after two strong starts, this Mets rotation is not going as deep into games as it historically has. Eventually, we all reasonably expect Syndergaard to become the pitcher he was in 2016, but really, after deGrom and Syndergaard, the Mets don’t know what their other starters are going to be able to give them.
With the starters going shorter, this has forced Callaway to go to his bullpen earlier. While deGrom has provided a bit of a respite for the bullpen, the other starters do not. Once some of the other starters, like Syndergaard, begin to give more length, it’s very possible we will see the bullpen get more of a break. As noted in the question, splitting up deGrom and Syndergaard would create a day for the bullpen to rest up a bit before they are heavily used again, which is something they are not getting right now.
However, that is still just one part of the equation. Right now, the Mets rank 17th in the Majors with 78.2 innings from their bullpen. That is partially due to their having played two to three fewer games than the rest of baseball.
Despite having fewer innings and games played, this bullpen remains heavily taxed. They have more relievers appearing on one day of rest than any team in baseball. They are the only team in the National League to have four relievers make 11+ appearances. They have had to make four separate moves to bring a fresh arm up from the minors.
Maybe Harvey to the bullpen alleviates that. Perhaps Paul Sewald‘s recent stretch inspires Callaway to use his deep bullpen more evenly. Whatever the case, the Mets are going to have to figure something out because with the way Callaway has been riding his bullpen it’s unlikely they all make it to September, or even October, when they will really need them.
Drew D. asks . . .
The Mets have to do something about their catching situation. What should the Mets give up for Realmuto?
John S. replies . . .
Since the offseason, I have seen fans openly clamoring for J.T. Realmuto, and I have to say I don’t understand it for this guy.
Over the past two seasons, Realmuto has been good, not great, at the plate hitting .290/.337/.440 while averaging 14 homers and 56 RBI. That’s the equivalent to a 105 wRC+. Over that time frame, among catchers with at least 450 plate appearances, Realmuto ranks 12th.
Behind the plate, he does have a good, not great, arm having thrown out 33.8% of base stealers. That is above the league average of 27%. It should be noted Rene Rivera came to the Mets having thrown out 45.9% of base stealers in his career. While catching the Mets current rotation, he was only successful 26% of the time.
Up until the time the Mets pitchers learn to hold on runners, it’s not going to matter who is behind the plate.
It’s also due to Realmuto’s behind the plate work the Mets should have little interest in Realmuto. According to Stat Corner, Realmuto was the fourth worst pitch framer in 2016 and 2017.
This is a Mets team built on pitching, and early on that pitching staff has been helped along with the pitch framing skills of both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. Speaking of Plawecki, it appears he will be back in about a month’s time meaning the Mets are in a position where they could tread water for a little while, especially with some of the positive things we have seen from Tomas Nido, at least defensively, lately.
If things get worse, or Plawecki has a setback, that’s the time to look at the catching situation. That said, the Mets are probably going to have to look elsewhere and obtain a catcher like Wilson Ramos or Robinson Chirinos. Even if you don’t like those names or similar catchers, you may need to become accustomed to it because the Mets chances of landing Realmuto are remote.
The Mets don’t have a Robles or Acuna in their farm system, which means a complete depletion of their top prospects and/or trading players like Amed Rosario from the Major League roster. As a result, you are stuck waiting for Nido to hit, Plawecki to heal, or hope Ramos or Chirinos are revived in the event they ever become Mets.
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Hopefully, you enjoyed this mailbag as much as I enjoyed answering your questions. Keep the questions and comments coming and make sure to send them to AskMMO@metsmerizedonline.com