Bullpen Help Remains Top Priority For Mets

Here is the article in HTML format:

Despite the Mets vaulting themselves back into playoff contention with a 16-6 record in June after beginning the month 11 games below .500, the club's need for bullpen help has been further exacerbated leading up to the July 30 trade deadline.

New York's pen was one of the team's surprise strengths out of the gate, posting a National League-best 2.85 ERA in April while the team finished with a 15-11 record during that stretch. The unit was enhanced by the breakout of Reed Garrett, who posted a 0.57 ERA over 15 2/3 innings in April, in addition to the likes of Brooks Raley, Edwin Díaz, and Adam Ottavino all providing consistency and stability at the end of games.

Things, however, quickly nosedived as the season transitioned into May. The Mets' downward spiral was all-encompassing, and at the heart of it was the bullpen. The team lost five games that they led after eight innings during that month as their relievers recorded a league-worst -1.1 fWAR while putting up a 4.88 ERA, upstaged only by the Pittsburgh Pirates for the worst total in the NL over that time period.

From the Jorge López debacle to Díaz's struggles (8.68 ERA) and everything in between, the sky truly felt like it was falling for both the bullpen and the team as a whole before the season even reached its dog days.

Amidst the Mets' run back to relevancy, their relievers have steadied to the tune of a 3.00 ERA in June, which ranks No. 9 in the league. There has still been some cause for concern, however, as the bullpen is responsible for a 4.15 ERA over the past seven days while a seeming lack of depth and reliable late-inning arms could come back to haunt the team should those shortcomings go unaddressed moving forward.

The most consequential piece of New York's bullpen is, of course, Díaz. After a rough month of May that ended with him landing on the injured list with a shoulder impingement, he looked more like his old self in June with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.16 FIP across just three outings after returning on June 13.

A 10-game suspension after a sticky substance ejection against the Chicago Cubs on June 23 has more or less muddied the waters around Díaz and put the club in a tough spot for the time being, but overall there shouldn't be too many concerns about his role or level of play down the stretch as the Mets' closer.

Garrett has bounced back from his own struggles in May (6.08 ERA) with a 2.70 ERA and 2.85 FIP over 10 June innings while Dedniel Núñez has also been a bright spot with a 2.31 ERA over the first 14 appearances of his major league career, but the issue lies with almost everything else in the bullpen.

Manager Carlos Mendoza has recently avoided inserting Ottavino in any sort of high-leverage situation as he attempts to regain his footing while Sean Reid-Foley sits on the injured list with a right shoulder impingement. The Mets may also be without Drew Smith for the rest of the campaign after disclosing to reporters that imaging on his right elbow showed substantial damage that may lead to the second Tommy John surgery of his career.

Even if Reid-Foley returns relatively quickly and continues to produce at a solid rate for the Mets, bullpen help will likely remain David Stearns' top priority at the deadline should the team decide to plant their flag as buyers. With Raley out for the year due to Tommy John surgery as well and no true difference-makers that appear ready to make the leap to the big leagues quite yet in the upper levels of the minors, New York has a unique opportunity to completely shift the look of its relief corps over the next month.

It would appear improbable that the Mets splurge for one of the more expensive arms on the trade market such as Tanner Scott of the Miami Marlins or Hunter Harvey of the Washington Nationals, though the reliever market is saturated enough that they should be able to find plenty of value elsewhere.

Potential targets that would make sense as fits include old friend David Robertson should the Texas Rangers fall completely out of the playoff race, Carlos Estévez of the Los Angeles Angels, Yimi García of the Toronto Blue Jays, Michael Kelly of the Oakland Athletics, and Brent Suter of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Mets got wins across their entire minor league system. Austin Allen and the Syracuse Mets trounced Buffalo, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies split their doubleheader with Portland, Brooklyn's offense finally broke out, and the St. Lucie Mets erased an 8-0 deficit in the fifth inning to come back and beat the Palm Beach Cardinals. It's safe to say the entire Mets organization is having fun right now.

Ryan Clifford. Credit: Matt Kipp / Brooklyn Cyclones


Syracuse Mets (49-29) 9, Buffalo Bisons (38-40) 4

  • C Austin Allen 2-for-4, R, HR (3), 5 RBI (.929 OPS)
  • SS Luisangel Acuña 1-for-4, 2 R, 2B, BB (.698 OPS)
  • DH Rylan Bannon 1-for-4, R, HR (14), 3 RBI (.875 OPS)
  • 3B Brett Baty 2-for-5, R, RBI, 2 K (1.125 OPS)

The Mets bats, led by homers from Allen (grand slam) and Bannon, earned Syracuse the win over Buffalo. Brett Baty collected two more hits as he continues to mash since his demotion to Syracuse.

  • RHP José Buttó (6.64 ERA) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (101 pitches/ 59 strikes)
  • RHP Wilkin Ramos 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Tyler Jay 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

Butto was again solid for Syracuse, posting his fourth consecutive quality start. While he is still walking a fair amount of hitters (five batters in the last three games), those numbers have changed significantly since his struggles earlier in the month.


Game 1: Portland Sea Dogs (35-37) 2, Binghamton Rumble Ponies (36-34) 0

  • 3B Jeremiah Jackson 1-for-2, BB, SB ( 7) (.626 OPS)
  • LF Stanley Consuegra 1-for-3, K (.384 OPS)
  • C Drake Osborn 1-for-3,K (.696 OPS)

The Ponies' offense struggled in the first half of the doubleheader, combining to collect only three hits.

  • RHP Nolan McLean (6.07 ERA) 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (80 pitches/52 strikes)
  • RHP Cameron Foster (3.89 ERA) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Cam Robinson (1.20 ERA) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K

McLean didn't have much run support behind his solid outing in game 1 of the doubleheader.

Game 2: Portland Sea Dogs (38-35) 0, Binghamton Rumble Ponies (37-34) 1

  • 1B Ryan Clifford 1-for-3, R, HR (9), RBI, K (.838 OPS)
  • C Kevin Parada 1-for-3, 2B, K (.655 OPS)
  • 1B JT Schwartz 2-for-4, BB (.802 OPS)

Binghamton earned a doubleheader split powered by an opposite-field Ryan Clifford home run. Clifford now has nine homers in 37 games for the Rumble Ponies, boasting a peculiar slash line of .175/.356/.482 (.838 OPS).

  • RHP Justin Jarvis (2.90 ERA) 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K (74 pitches/48 strikes)
  • RHP Nolan Clenney 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Bryce Montes de Oca 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Trey McLoughlin (2.86 ERA) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Jarvis has been up and down between Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Binghamton, but he has remained steady for both teams. His outing on Friday was his second consecutive scoreless performance while lowering his Double-A ERA to 2.90. Montes de Oca put a scoreless outing on his third rehab appearance for the Rumble Ponies – Goose Mountain could be on his way back to Queens after the team's critical loss of Drew Smith.


Brooklyn Cyclones (35-38) 7, Aberdeen IronBirds (39-34) 0

  • 1B Nick Lorusso 1-for-2, 2 R, HR (11), 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K (.867 OPS)
  • 2B Jesus Baez 1-for-5, 2 K (.706 OPS)
  • LF Christopher Suero 1-for-3, R, 2 BB, 1 K (.686 OPS)

The Cyclone's offense finally broke out, scoring seven en route to a win over Aberdeen. Nick Lorruso launched his 11th homer for Brooklyn, bringing his OPS up to a respectable .867.

  • RHP Dakota Hawkins (4.54 ERA) 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Josh Hejka 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Hawkins and Hejka combined to pitch another gem for Brooklyn– striking out nine and only allowing three hits in their shutout effort.


St. Lucie Mets (24-49) 10, Palm Beach Cardinals (40-32) 8

  • 3B Colin Houck 3-for-5, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI (.642 OPS)
  • SS Boston Baro 2-for-6, RBI, K (.755 OPS)
  • LF Yohairo Cuevas 1-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K (.531 OPS)

The Mets scored in bunches to erase an 8-0 deficit and beat Palm Beach for their 24th victory of the season. Massive sixth and ninth innings were all the Mets needed to score their ten runs on the night. Despite only hitting two extra-base hits for the entire game, the Mets collected 12 total hits and drew three walks. Colin Houck had another big game, grabbing three more hits, including a double, and driving in two runs.

  • RHP Edgar Moreta (14.21 ERA) 3 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Miguel Alfonseca 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K