Well, it’s that time of year again. The Mets have dashed their hopes of success, fans hang their heads low and everyone grumbles that changes need to be made.
Not surprisingly, much of the Mets’ problem—the majority, even—stems from their putrid, horrid bullpen.
Of course, the bullpen has been a problem for quite some time, years in fact. When was the last time Mets fans as a whole were satisfied with it? 1999 or 2000, when they had Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook? It seems so long ago…
But I digress. The Mets have gotten to the point where they are experimenting, trying just about anything to patch up the holes in their ‘pen. They’ve already thrown Elvin Ramirez at the wall, but he hasn’t stuck. Pedro Beato—no, Manny Acosta—not at all.
So why not start scrounging even more through Triple-A—I mean, at this point, it can’t hurt. I suggest giving left-hander Justin Hampson another look, as he has had success wherever he has gone in the Mets system.
In 36 games with Triple-A Buffalo this year, he is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA. He has allowed only 45 hits in 50 innings, while walking 16 batters and striking out 48. In fact, he leads team pitchers (with at least 10 innings under their belts) in earned run average and is second on the team in appearances.
He’s even had some success in a cup of coffee with the Mets already this season—in three appearances, he has a 0.00 ERA. Sure, he allowed two unearned runs and three hits in 1.1 innings of work, but he should at least be given a few more frames to prove his worth, or lack thereof.
In 2011, the now 32-year-old pitcher joined the franchise after bouncing around indy ball the year before. He spent the entire season with Buffalo and also had success, winning three games and posting a 3.41 ERA in 52 appearances, while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is his past major league success. He pitched very well for the San Diego Padres in 2007 and 2008, posting a 2.79 ERA in 74 games between those two seasons. Inexplicably, they did not keep him around following 2008, so he then began a multi-year trek through the minors.
Sure, this article may be written in desperation, as I look for something—anything!—to help lift the Mets out of their post-All-Star break doldrums.
Though he might tank upon being recalled to the major leagues, Justin Hampson may also be one of the cogs the Mets need to lift them out of the dark. They might as well try him out—because, heck, he’s better than Manny Acosta.