Mets’ winter forecast: Bullpen must help take pressure off Familia and Reed
We conclude our examination of the state of the Mets’ roster by examining the relievers:
ON THE 40 Jeurys Familia (3-4, 2.55 ERA, 51 saves, 78 games) Addison Reed (4-2, 1.97 ERA, 1 save, 80 games) Hansel Robles (6-4, 3.48 ERA, 1 save, 68 games) Jim Henderson (2-2, 4.11 ERA, 44 games) Josh Edgin (1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 games) Erik Goeddel (2-2, 4.54 ERA, 36 games) Josh Smoker (3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 games)
PENDING FREE AGENT Jerry Blevins (4-2, 2.79 ERA, 2 saves, 73 games) Fernando Salas (3-7, 3.91 ERA, 6 saves, 75 games)
WHERE THEY STAND The Mets are in a very good spot when it comes to their relievers as they are set to bring back one of the best back-end duos in the league in Familia and Reed.
The two were a dynamic pair and gave manager Terry Collins and their teammates a sense of confidence that when they entered the game, it was over.
Familia, who took over as the closer last season, set a team record with 51 saves and now has 94 in his first two seasons in that role. He’s faltered in the playoffs the past two years, but has been one of the game’s best closers during that time and has proven durable.
Reed had a breakout season by posting a 1.97 ERA and was the team’s best reliever for most of the season. Acquiring the righty has proved to be one of general manager Sandy Alderson’s shrewdest moves as he’s developed into one of the premier setup men in baseball.
The only concern with the pair is their usage this past year – and in Familia’s case the last three years – and Collins admitted after the NL wild-card game loss to the Giants he needed to be more diligent with days off. Reed pitched in 81 of the team’s 163 games this season, while Familia has appeared in at least 76 regular-season games the last three years and set a career-high this season.
The Mets had to use the duo so often due to a lack of a consistent seventh-inning reliever, and that figures to be a priority this offseason. Salas, who the team acquired in August, preformed quite well with the Mets, and the team could try to bring him back.
Robles has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever, but he goes through streaks where he walks too many batters and gives up too many hard-hit balls. Having a set seventh-inning reliever would allow him more time to develop and prepare for taking over that seventh-inning gig.
Among the lefties, Blevins is set to be a free agent after a successful year as the team’s lefty specialist, and he said he would welcome a reunion. A third season in Flushing for Blevins would make sense for both parties, and probably would not be too costly.
Smoker is an intriguing option due to his high-octane fastball but he posted reverse splits with lefties hitting .360 against him compared to righties hitting just .200.
OUTLOOK The Mets have a good quartet in place in Familia, Reed, Robles and Smoker, and it would not be surprising to see Salas and Blevins added back into the mix. If not Salas, the team would be wise to bring in a veteran for the seventh inning to take some pressure off Familia and Reed.
Retaining Blevins would give the team two quality arms from the left side. Bartolo Colon, if he returns, could serve as the team’s long man if he’s not needed in the rotation.