Not much in Flushing looks good besides the Shake Shack and Blue Smoke in Citi Field. Can the Mets’ bullpen fix that?
Bobby Parnell pitched admirably in his first season as a closer, with a 2.16 ERA and 22 saves in 2013. Health permitting, his save total should improve this season. Unfortunately, everyone behind him in the bullpen is a mixed-bag.
When the Mets’ X-factor is Jose Valverde, there’s a problem. “Papa Grande” totaled 84 saves in 2011 and 2012, but struggled mightily with the Tigers last season and was sent to the minor leagues. Although he posted a 5.59 ERA in 20 games with Detroit in 2013, the 36-year-old appears to be the Mets’ set-up man this season, and will close games when Parnell is unavailable.
Jeurys Familia, 24, will open the season in the bullpen, and nobody really knows what to expect. In 17 career appearances over two seasons, Familia has a 5.09 ERA. He was once considered a starting pitching prospect, so whether he will be a reliable reliever has yet to be determined.
Carlos Torres, who pitched well for the Mets last season, has also earned a spot in the bullpen. His 3.44 ERA from a year ago was a career-best, and he will look to build upon it this season.
After Josh Edgin was surprisingly cut, Scott Rice was the only lefty-specialist option left. When he finally broke into the big leagues as a 31-year-old last season, Rice was impressive, holding left-handed batters to a .174 batting average. He won’t be the only lefty reliever, however, as John Lannan will be the long man. Up until this point in his career, Lannan has 148 appearances, and they have all been starts.
The final bullpen spot has been given to Gonzalez Germen, who had a 3.93 ERA in 29 games as a rookie last season.
The Mets’ bullpen was 12th in the National League (22nd overall) with a 3.98 ERA last season, and it should not be much better in 2014.