Posted by Charlie Hangley at 1:00 PM
If you look closely at the Mets’ 2017 bullpen, you’ll find it looks quite familiar. No, wait, scratch that: you don’t need to look that closely. The fire brigade that ended the 2016 season has been brought back, almost in toto, give or take a Logan Verrett here or a Jim Henderson there. It didn’t always look that way. At the outset of the off-season, the ‘pen looked to be an area of weakness for a potential championship team. The returns of Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas changed all that. It’s funny how Sandy Alderson has surprised us all winter, simply by bringing back to the fold players who were already here.
Anyway, while we can be a bit sanguine about our terrific starters’ support staff, it still ain’t a sure thing. Closer Jeurys Familia is facing a suspension at the beginning of the season, owing to charges of domestic violence. He’ll be gone at least 30 days, if history is any guide. So for the first moth, everybody moves up a notch. Addison Reed was the king of the eighth inning last year and he’ll be the de facto closer. Outside of Familia, Reed may have been the bullpen’s real MVP for 2016. It may be too much to ask him to repeat his heroics of last season, especially when thrust into a role he hasn’t played since he was a 2014 White Sock. Salas should take over the eighth, but I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of him to be able to fully appreciate his talents there. Hansel Robles, the setup for the setup, is far from the model of consistency. Last year, he was Forrest Gump’s box o’ chocolates: you never knew what you were gonna get. If he’s found the secret, he can be formidable. You just don’t know about his “head space.” Blevins has shown he can far more than your average LOOGY. That’s probably why he was looking for the bigger bucks this winter. We have to hope that Terry Collins shows a little more restraint in using him than he did last year. After that, the margins are likely to be filled in by some combination of Rafael Montero, Josh Edgin, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel and Gabriel Ynoa and while you wouldn’t count on them in the big, high-leverage spot, you’re gonna need them on occasion.
Look, given the inconsistencies of most bullpens on a year-to-year basis, it’s foolish to think this is in the bag. Or, they may be lights out and lockdown. This is one of those situations where you don’t know until you get there.