The Mets bullpen problems are are back…
So much has been made over the last ten days about the Mets sudden outage at the plate, the fatigue and controversy among their young starting pitchers, and a disappointing and mostly lopsided homestand during which the club went 3-6.
But the bullpen has once again become equally as problematic during this stretch of games as well, with the slump now affecting the Mets key relievers for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
The last two games are examples of that, when all three of Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia have come in and struggled to keep the Braves at bay.
On Wednesday night, Reed allowed all three of his inherited runners to score, raising his total to five since he joined the Mets. Clippard gave the Mets a relatively clean eighth inning despite hitting Pedro Ciriaco to leadoff the frame.
But Jeurys Familia – who had allowed just a single run in his last 25 appearances heading into his assignment on Wednesday – was completely ineffective for the first time since his showing against the Padres in late July, the day the club blew a 7-1 seventh inning lead.
“That’s about as uncommon as anything we’ve seen in a long time,” manager Terry Collins said about his closer after Wednesday’s loss. “His split has been outstanding. He left it up to Freddie. If the ball is down, he gets a double play or gets a groundball or gets a swing and miss. He left it up in the hitting area, and he did what good hitters do.”
Familia – who worked a scoreless ninth inning during Monday’s 4-0 win – seemed to show a lack of life and velocity on either his sinker or his splitter on Wednesday. That splitter has become a devastating weapon in his arsenal, but he hung one right in the middle of the plate to Freddie Freeman, who hit it out of sight for a three-run home run, putting the capper on a disappointing week in front of the home crowd.
“I wanted to throw it lower,” Familia explained. “I missed a little in the zone. And he made good contact. That’s all.”
But between the three aces of the Mets bullpen, along with Carlos Torres, Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin, Erik O’Flaherty, and Hansel Robles, the Mets relief corps combined for 31 innings and a 5.81 ERA during the nine-game homestand.
Bobby Parnell was the only reliever who did not allow a run on the homestand.
In fairness to the bullpen, they were largely overworked in their last nine games. On four separate occasions, the bullpen was asked to produce four innings of relief of their starting rotation. And on each of those occasions, they allowed at least two runs in those games.
Whenever the bullpen is asked to get at least 12 outs, that’s not usually a good thing. And in the case of the Mets, Logan Verrett made two spot starts for a total of five innings a piece, Jacob deGrom struggled for five innings in another outing, and there was the controversial Harvey Day on Sunday when the bullpen allowed seven earned runs – 11 in total – in four innings of work.
“You like it when your seventh, eighth, and ninth inning guys have a lead, hopefully a couple of runs to play with, so they don’t have to be so perfect and so fine,” David Wright explained after the game.
The Mets didn’t lead much over their last nine games, thanks to some very poor hitting.
But none of this excuses the bullpen, which is creating more questions than answers yet again. Now that the club is in the final days of the regular season, this is not a problem the Mets need, especially as they’ve attempted to answer those questions with the acquisitions of Reed and Clippard, shifting other arms back to their perceived strength in lower leverage situations.
For now, the Mets do not have any plans to try out anyone from their minor league system ahead of the playoffs.
In other words, it’s up to them to straighten themselves out. And time is running out.