(Note: Header picture is from 2012, but I would not be shocked if this years ranks look the same)
Anyone who has been watching this Mets team so far this season knows that something is off. It feels as though everything possible that could go wrong has gone wrong. The team has already lost its best hitter, best starter, and closer to injury, with the pitchers going to be on the DL until July or August. At 18-24, I am not panicking, mostly because I know we will get healthier (knock on wood, because this is the softest team in the league), and our biggest weakness coming into the year, offense, has done well. The obvious weakness is the bullpen. Since losing Yoenis Cespedes on April 28, the Mets have gone 10-11. Overall, the Mets have played great without him, winning 2 of 3 in 5 of the 7 series. So why the under .500 record? Because of 2 DEMORALIZING sweeps in Milwaukee and Arizona. Now, both of these two teams have had much better starts to the season than expected, however, this is a trip that the Mets should go at least 3-3. The Mets had a legit shot to win 4 out of the 6 games, and all 4 of those were lost on the bullpen. The most notable name in these bullpen implosions is Hansel Robles. The TV cameras panning to the bullpen and showing Robles warming up is like the CBS constantly showing replays of Kevin Ware’s leg injury while we were all trying to enjoy Easter Sunday with our families in 2013. TURN IT OFF, MAKE IT STOP! Now, flash back to last Wednesday, a few hours before the Mets would get swept by the Diamondbacks (on another blown lead by the bullpen). I was waiting in line at a party and got this notification on my phone.
Oh perfect, the Mets are in dire need of bullpen help, let’s bring in a guy with a fucking 8.71 ERA, who has already been designated for assignment by two teams this year, with both of them having bad starts to the season. Well, flash forward to this past Saturday. The Mets were coming off a 3-0 against the Angels to snap their 7 game losing streak, and had a 7-2 lead going into the ninth. I was in attendance for the game, and like everyone else in the stadium, was feeling great with the lead especially since the Mets put up 3 in the bottom of the 8th to add extra insurance. Well, enter Neil Ramirez. I heard his name and I’m thinking, “Never heard of this guy, must be a recent call up from AAA”. I look up at the scoreboard at his stats, and what do I see, that fat 8.71 ERA, and it hit me. “Oh no, not this guy”. Immediately, I was the only fan in the stadium who did not feel comfortable with this lead. Sure enough, Ramirez lets the first 3 guys on, and Terry Collins takes him out. I am on the side that says Terry gets a lot more criticism than he deserves because of the injuries and ups and downs he has dealt with the last 2 seasons, but his management of this bullpen has been almost as bad as the bullpen itself. Addison Reed would come in, and even though the runs were not charged to him, he allowed all 3 to score, but ended up striking out Danny Espinosa with the bases loaded to finally seal a 7-5 win.
Neil Ramirez would bounce back and throw a scoreless inning yesterday against the Angels, but this move still has me scratching my head. But the question remains, how are the Mets going to fix this bullpen? If the starting pitching can get back to full strength, and the offense can keep it up at a good pace, this Mets team is undoubtedly a dangerous team that could get hot in the second half like we have seen the past two seasons. However, because of this bullpen, it could go in either direction. We saw a team like the Giants last year, who had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break, fall apart in the second half because of their bullpen that blew 32 saves. Thirty-two! They barely hung on to earn the second Wild Card spot, and after beating the Mets (on a bullpen loss), they had a chance to force a Game 5 in Chicago and potentially change history as we now know it, only to blow another save and allow the Cubs to move on. I’ve been saying in the early part of this season, it would be a shame if this era of Mets baseball is ultimately hindered by the fact that their starters could not stay healthy. While that point still stands, we are now looking a team who could be a great one, but that could never finish the job because they did not have the bullpen to support.
Let’s be honest though, the Mets may just be cursed this year because of one offseason move (or lack thereof).
I don’t care what his stats show this year, or what we have to give up. Bring home Big Sexy.