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The Bullpen Could Carry or Kill the Mets

The Mets got an early Christmas present when it was announced that the team signed four time All-Star Dellin Betances. Betances, who has spent his entire career with the Yankees, signed a one year deal with the Mets with a player option for 2021 and a vesting option for 2022.

With the addition of Betances, the Mets could have one of the most formidable bullpens in the MLB. For much of his career, Betances has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. In his 8-year career, Betances has a career 2.36 ERA and averages 11.5 K/9(strikeouts per nine innings.)

Betances is joined by Seth Lugo, who has quietly developed into one of the most consistent relievers in baseball. Lugo has an ERA of 2.66 and 2.70 in the past two seasons, and he has shown an ability to come up clutch, earning nine saves in that span.

The Mets potential embarrassment of riches continues with Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. Diaz, who was acquired in the Robinson Cano trade, was arguably the best closer in baseball. In Diaz’s three years with the Mariners, he had a 2.64 ERA and 109 saves before the trade.

Diaz secured his reputation as a top three closer in his 2018 season where he was so dominant he earned Cy Young and MVP votes as well as his first All-Star selection. In 2018 with the Mariners, Diaz led the American League with 57 saves and had an ERA under 2.00.

Jeurys Familia came up with the Mets and spent nearly seven seasons in Queens before being traded to the Oakland Athletics at the end of the 2018 season. Familia returned to the Mets in the 2018-2019 off-season as a free agent.

In Familia’s career with the Mets, he appeared in one All-Star game and had a career 3.14 ERA. From 2014 to 2016, Familia was nearly as dominant as Betances, but didn’t get the recognition he deserved because of the Mets lack of success other than the 2015 postseason run. In that three year span, Familia had a 2.32 ERA and had 99 saves with 232.3 innings pitched.

With the combination of Lugo, Betances, Diaz, and Familia, the Mets could theoretically have one of the best bullpens in baseball; but what if things don’t go the way they should? The Mets bullpen, while talented, also has a lot of reason to worry.

Lugo does not give fans many reasons to worry. In spite of Mickey Callaway’s mismanagement of the Mets bullpen, Lugo remained their most consistent arm, but Betances, Diaz and Familia give fans reasons to worry.

Betances is coming off a season where he played only one game because of an injured shoulder. Betances has carried a large load for the Yankees bullpen for years pitching nearly 400 innings from 2014-2018. It is not unjustifiable to worry about his long term health.

Betances also started his career in dominant fashion. In 2014 and 2015, Betances had an ERA of 1.45 with 174 innings pitched. In the three years since, Betances, while still great, has not been as dominant posting an ERA of 2.90.

Betances arm also has a history of losing effectiveness near the end of the season. Betances does not have a career monthly ERA of over 2.45 from March to August, yet in September and October, his ERA skyrockets to 4.06 in 67 career appearances in that span.

Diaz and Familia are in similar situations. Both had off years last season and were wildly disappointing. Diaz was 2-7 with a 5.59 ERA and 26 saves in a horrid first season with the Mets. Meanwhile, Familia’s New York return was far from glamorous as he posted a 5.70 ERA in his return to a Mets uniform.

Expecting a bounce back from both is not a wild expectation. After all, Diaz is not the first player to have a rough adjustment to the pressures of New York. Diaz comes from a small market team in Seattle, and plenty of players have crumbled with the bright lights of New York initially on them. Assuming Diaz has no chance of being that guy is ignorant.

Familia, on the other hand, has not been the same since his suspension in 2017, which ended with an injury. Since the start of the 2017 season, he has had an ERA of 4.32, a long way off from his dominance from 2014 to 2016.

The Mets bullpen, if it performs to its potential, could make any lineup in the MLB afraid and could potentially make the Mets a playoff team, but many of the bullpens struggles last season were blamed on Callaway’s mismanagement. The Mets fired Callaway’s and replaced him with Carlos Beltran.

Beltran was a fantastic player, perhaps even a hall of famer, but still has never been a manager. It would not shock me if Betances was reliable and Diaz and Familia had improved from last season under Beltran. However; considering his lack of experience, I have little confidence he can nurse all three back to their All-Star potential.

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