The Mets might finally have an answer to their seventh inning relief issues
It hasn’t been easy for Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins to find answers to their constantly fluctuating bullpen this season.
It’s been their ongoing project pretty much since the middle of spring training when the Mets lost both Vic Black and Josh Edgin to injury and realized Bobby Parnell might not be a factor in the early part of the season.
Looking back at the season as a whole, it had really been a revolving door of failed opportunities and injuries, people in mis-casted roles, and success defined merely by a thin sheet of ice ready to break the moment even the slightest imbalance of weight was pressed on it.
It took five months, a lot of trial and mostly error, but perhaps Collins and the Mets have finally found their answer to shortening games for Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia.
That answer right now lies in the hands of Addison Reed, Hansel Robles and Erik Goeddel, a trio of relievers who have helped the bullpen to allow only one run in their last 17 2/3 innings dating back to September 7 in Washington.
Reed has continued his strong second half showing since joining the Mets in late August, which the Mets were banking on when they acquired him from the Diamondbacks. He has allowed just six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in seven innings over seven appearances with New York, proving to be the quality late inning reliever he had been prior to his early 2015 struggles. Reed has only allowed one hit in seven tries to the first batter he’s faced, and has not allowed a base runner to any of the six batters he’s faced when leading off an inning.
Reed did allow his only two inherited runners to score on September 4 against the Marlins, and he has yet to be tested again when coming in with runners on base, but he has proven to be a staple for Collins in the formula for the seventh inning.
“[Reed] came over, and boy he’s caught up in what’s going on,” Collins said after Friday’s 5-1 win over the Braves. “He’s throwing the ball tremendous.”
As for Goeddel, he’s picked up right where he left off before missing three months on the disabled list with an elbow problem. His split-fingered fastball has been devastating all year, which is more impressive considering he only learned that pitch in the last year when he realized his change-up was ineffective.
Goeddel has only allowed a run in five innings since returning from the disabled list with no walks and four strikeouts in five relief appearances.
Regarding Robles, he only continues to improve both his fastball and slider command the more he pitches. He’s been exceptional over the last month, allowing only five runs and nine hits with four walks and 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings since July 31. He is unscored upon in each of his last four appearances with only two hits allowed and four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings since August 30.
“I just think it’s catchy,” Collins said of the bullpen’s improved performance.
With Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres proving more effective as long-relief specialists, Reed, Robles and Goeddel along with Dario Alvarez’s early but impressive showing as a left-handed specialist may be the missing pieces for the Mets as they look ahead towards their October pitching staff.
They may not be the sexiest names on the planet, but all that matters is they perform, and right now, this formula maybe the most formidable solution the Mets have had at any point in 2015.
And it couldn’t come at a better time for the club.