The 2021 Mets have opened their season in a little bit of a Bizarro World, their heralded offense performing so poorly that it resulted in the firing of two coaches and their regarding protection scoring within the black as per the revered defensive-runs-saved metric.
Yet is there any extra nice — and essential — shock about this membership than its bullpen?
Contemplate how a lot hassle the Mets would face had their aid corps lived right down to expectations relatively than getting into Friday’s work shift as a substantial power.
“Those guys have been doing a really good job of closing the door and keeping us in games when we’re behind,” Pete Alonso stated Friday at Citi Field, earlier than the Mets opened their homestand with a tilt towards the Diamondbacks. “They’ve been great. It’s fun watching them pitch every night.”
Like Alonso’s “Polar Burger,” which yow will discover on sale at Citi’s Section 102, the Mets’ bullpen encompasses a plethora of elements, and far the way in which you possibly can work across the burger’s caramelized onions for those who don’t like them, Luis Rojas has maneuvered round subpar bullpen performances. Exhibit A was when the supervisor known as upon Jeurys Familia to alleviate the ailing and struggling Edwin Diaz final Sunday to go after the Phillies’ Bryce Harper for the ultimate out of a nutty 8-7 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
The opponents’ OPS for the Mets’ relievers had dropped from .740, Tenth-best within the National League final yr, to .648, third greatest, and the bullpen’s ERA had declined from 4.60, ninth, to three.45, third. Perhaps the most important issue behind that enchancment: The strikeouts-to-walks ratio jumped from 1.98, twelfth, to three.50, second.
“The walk rate in the past was high, and that was getting them in trouble,” Rojas stated. “Having them tone that down, put that number of walks per inning down, has been a plus.”
Familia and Robert Gsellman greatest personify this bullpen, which has been extra rehabilitated than remade. New Mets Aaron Loup and Trevor May each have rebounded from shaky Opening Night outcomes (additionally in Philadelphia), but it surely’s Familia and Gsellman, who registered tough campaigns in each 2019 and 2020, who’ve rediscovered their greatest selves. Familia, with a mixed 5.09 ERA the prior two seasons, owned a 1.13, whereas Gsellman, 5.56 in ’19 and ’20, stood at 3.12.
“Jeurys Familia has been throwing the ball really, really good,” Rojas stated. “Throwing more strikes.”
After averaging 1.41 strikeouts for each stroll in 2019-20, Familia put collectively a 2-to-1 Ks-to-BBs ratio in his first 10 video games of this season.
As for Gsellman, Rojas stated: “G is back to his old self. He got away from pitching north too often. He may show the four-seam [fastball], but it’s been more sinker-slider. That’s what got him to be a big league pitcher. As his manager in the minor league, that’s what he was. He used his sink, used the changeup. He had a curveball and a slider. He’s trusting his changeup right now. He’s mixing.”
As per Baseball Savant, Gsellman threw his four-seamer 19.1 % of the time final yr and simply 6.1 % of the time in 2021.
Throw in Miguel Castro, the bettering Jacob Barnes (5 straight scoreless outings) and the nearer, Diaz (who has been stable if not approaching his elite 2018 with the Mariners), and the Mets discover themselves with a fairly productive unit, capable of shrug off the damage absence of veteran Dellin Betances.
“A lot of guys are throwing the ball really well,” Rojas stated. “It keeps some stress off of some guys getting overused [when so many are coming through]. A lot of guys are going to get rest.”
The key, in fact, will are available in whether or not the Mets can increase their offense again to its ceiling with out the bullpen falling towards its ground. Yet for those who’re sweating out such a worst-case situation, relatively than commonly sweating out a late-inning lead, then you definitely’re doing OK. You’re in a world, or at the least a part of one, you don’t need to depart.