Throughout the season, the Mets bullpen situation has certainly been a sticky one. Even its formerly reliable names have not come through for the team this year.
A bullpen is comprised of pitchers who can come into a game in various situations to provide a reliable effort to help hold down the fort. The Mets haven't seen nearly enough of that this year.
Instead, the bullpen has provided them with constant headaches and question marks. Its been ugly on so many levels. Coming into the year, Pedro Feliciano and Fernando Nieve were expected to be two of the Mets elite late-inning arms. Fingers could be pointed at manager Jerry Manuel for incorrectly using those guys, but their numbers have looked like pure misery.
Feliciano has been a go-to specialist for years now in the Mets bullpen. He's led the NL in games pitched for two years in a row and currently leads the league in that category again. Overall, he hasn't quite been himself. It goes beyond the solid ERA that has masked his weaknesses.
Feliciano is getting pummeled by right-handed hitters and his control has been off, helping achieve a lowly 2-6 record and whopping 1.75 WHIP. He's been more wild than expected and gives up more big hits than he ever has.
Nieve was demoted a long time ago, and as useful as he was expected to be, the consistency wasn't there. He put up an ERA of 6.00 in 40 appearances.
Right-handers Manny Acosta and Bobby Parnell have seen work, and while proving to be effective, they have been prone to giving up big runs every now and then.
Same goes for lefty Raul Valdes who has a 4.73 ERA in 31 games. Ryota Igarashi has been awful having allowed 17 runs. Mets fans also couldn't be comfortable with seeing Oliver Perez pick up innings out of the bullpen either.
The one bright spot of middle relief is journeyman Elmer Dessens who has put up the most quality pitching in relief for the team. Nobody thought he would be a key factor to this Mets bullpen.
Francisco Rodriguez is another story. He's blown a handful of saves, but has otherwise been very effective. Now he has earned himself a spot on the restricted list after his assault of a family member following a game earlier this week.
K-Rod's anger debacle is yet another problem that this bullpen simply doesn't need a this point.
The 2010 Mets bullpen has been one of the biggest hindrances on team success. Many losses could be attributed to the bullpen. It doesn't help that the Mets have been prone to putting up few runs in close games, but it is worse when the bullpen frequently can't maintain a lead.
It is time for some serious changes in the bullpen. The Mets bullpen needs more leadership, fresh arms, and more experience.
Everything amounts to the Mets being in serious need of a bullpen shakeup. It doesn't matter what position they are in, or what stage of the season it is. A change could make a huge difference at this point. Unfortunately, there aren't too many resources at the team's disposal.
It may be time to see southpaw Pat Misch recalled to the Mets. He has big league experience and pitched in the Triple-A All-Star Game this year.
The Mets should test the waiver wire for relievers as well. One name circulating is lefty Mike Gonzalez. The Orioles have placed him on waivers due to his lack of control this year. He could be the type of pitcher the Mets need.
Disregard his 2010 stats—which aren't that much worse than what the Mets have put up—and he's been decent. Gonzalez had his best years in the National League with the Braves and Pirates. He's posted a career 2.50 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Primarily an NL pitcher, he could easily produce again in the confines of Citi Field.
If moves aren't made to address the bullpen now, the Mets will certainly be on the prowl for help in the offseason. It just doesn't look like the current bullpen will help the Mets push up the standings. A shakeup to that one aspect of the Mets could make some kind of difference as the team heads into mid-August.