RELIEF FOR CHAMPIONS!!
METS CHAMPIONSHIP PENS, PAST AND PRESENT - Tom Brennan
Since this Mets team will undoubtedly win the World series, as I am sure everyone would agree, I thought it might be interesting to look at what the 1969 and 1986 Series champs bullpens' workloads were and how those pens shaped up to our 2015 squad.
The 1969 Mets bullpen had a lighter workload than the 2015 team, for 50 great reasons: the 1969 starters tossed 51 complete games, exactly 50 more than the 2015 squad. 31% of the games, the pen sat back and enjoyed the view in 1969. Only one day off for the 2015 Mets' squad.
I like days off much better, personally! R&R at a B&B is A-OK with me.
Anyway, even guys who mostly relieved in 1969 threw 3 complete games (Nolan Ryan had 2 of them). Of course, 48 were tossed by the starting 5. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, you ask? They tossed a mere 34 of those complete games. Slackers!
The main pen aces were Ron Taylor, the righty side armer, and Tug McGraw, the first Met to beat the great Sandy Koufax, as I recall, a stunning event.
Ron and Tug were superb, a combined 18-7 with 25 saves, split almost 50-50. Closer by Committee....Cal Koonce also had 7 saves, and he and Ryan were each 6-3, mostly in relief. (I remember Koonce once tossing a 3 hitter….amd losing 7-3).
Also mostly in relief, Jack DeLauro was a hard luck 1-4, given his 2.40 ERA. The righty Taylor had the better ERA of him and Tug, but he only struck out 42 in 76 innings, not closer pedigree in today's fireballing game. The lefty screwballer McGraw, by contrast, punched out 92 in 100 IP. No one better and out stuff for those two: Tug and Ron tossed those 176 innings in just 101 outings.
Seaver himself relieved once, and starters Don Cardwell and Jim McAndrew still managed to relieve a combined 16 times. On the other hand, the Tugger and DiLauro each started 4 games and Ryan started 10. Compared to today's specialized game, pretty loosey goosey. " Hey Skip, I feel like starting today....oh sure, go ahead." Actually, I'm sure that juggling of starters was due to the plethora of scheduled and make up twin bills in those days.
Amazingly, besides the 5 starters and 5 relievers, 5 other relievers got into just 14 games total during the season. I guess 51 complete games made being a relief pitcher a scarce Mets profession.
Moving on, in 1986, relievers were used more frequently. Complete games dropped to 27, as compared to 1969's 51. Cy Young winner Gooden had 12 of those 27.
The saves job was again closer-by-lefty-righty, with righty Roger McDowell and lefty Jesse Orosco splitting almost 50-50 the 43 of the team's 46 saves they secured. They also went an unreal 22-15 and threw an amazing 209 combined innings in 133 combined exclusively relief outings. As a side note, Sid Fernandez notched one of the other 3 saves.
5th starter Rick Aguilera relieved 8 times in 28 appearances, while half of lousy Bruce Berenyi's 14 outings were in relief, along with 7 starts.
Again, the staff's entire innings workload primarily went to just 10 guys...3 notables besides those 10 who got into 7 total relief outings were the young Randy Myers, and Terry Leach and Ed Lynch.
Well, 2015 was totally different than the other 2 teams, in terms of relief. First, there is that "only 1 complete game" thing. That means ALL BULLPEN, ALL THE TIME.
Add in the fact that 4 guys expected to be a major factor in the pen were either not on the team all year, or played a very small, and even negative, role (Mejia - stupidity; Parnell - post-TJS; Black - neck, and control issues; Edgin - TJS).
That spelled HEAVY BULLPEN USAGE - in fact, whereas in 1969, there were almost no innings and outings for the non-regular relievers (outside the main 5), this 2015 Met team used 12 other relievers (really 14, with Logan Verrett, who started 4 but relieved in 10, and Dillon Gee (not to be confused with Dilson H) who only relieved once in 8 outings) that were not in their main 5 relievers. In simpler English, they used 19 relievers.
And those fourteen 2nd tier relievers were used a lot - they appeared in a total of 200 outings for the Mets, led by Eric Goeddel, Tyler Clippard, and Bobby Parnell each with 30 or more outings. The main 5 relievers (Familia, Carlos Torres, Gilmartin, Robles, and Alex Torres) combined for 280 outings. So that's about 480 total relief appearances, 3 per game on average. By comparison, the entire 1969 pitching staff made a total of 203 relief appearances (an average of just 1.25 per game).
And of course, being in an era of bullpen specialization, there was no closer by committee. The terrific Jeurys Familia saved 43, while the rest of the 18 pen guys totaled 5. He also had to take on the yeoman's share of the work because other former, alternate closers were not up to the task (Parnell - less than 100%, and Mejia, who preferred time off without pay). In my opinion, Familia was the team's glue and is the team's MVP, slightly edging out the terrific performance supplied by Curtis Granderson.
So, as we proceed to win the 3rd world series in franchise history in 2015, it is interesting how drastically different the bullpen usage was in 1969, 1986, and 2015.
And lastly, kudos this year to Terry Collins, who had to heavily mix and match relievers all year to achieve a pennant-winning result, and Sandy Alderson, for rapidly reacting to several sudden bullpen needs with a series of rapid acquisitions that held the pen together.
Of course, had they listened to my brother Steve's pleadings and acquired Andrew Miller in the off-season, that pen usage would have looked a whole lot different this year. What if. With me, always what if.