Can the New York Mets Bullpen Be Great in 2011?

Nick Carlo@@carlo2612Analyst IIFebruary 10, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 18:  Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets reacts after the Mets beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in ten innings at AT&T Park on July 18, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Mets bullpen will have a very different look in 2011.  The only three remaining bullpen pitchers are Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta and Francisco Rodriguez.  The Mets signed a handful of relievers this offseason.  D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Bucholz and Taylor Tankersley were signed by the Mets this offseason and they each have loads of potential.

Some people don't think that the Mets bullpen will be successful this year.  The team's bullpen has a lot of question marks, and there are also some injury-prone players in the bullpen.  A strong bullpen can make a mediocre team good, and a good team great.

The Mets had a decent bullpen last year but two of their top relievers are no longer with the team.  Hisanori Takahashi packed his bags for Anaheim, and Pedro Feliciano signed with the Mets' crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees.

Those two players were key to the Mets' bullpen success last season, but the team can recover from losing them.  Feliciano was one of the best lefty specialists in the league and he will be missed, but the Mets signed Taylor Tankersley this offseason.  Tankersley is a lefty and he's not as talented as Feliciano but he might win the job as the Mets' lefty specialist.

The Mets are hoping that Tankersley will impress in spring training and win the lefty specialist job.  If Tankersley can do that then he will deeply help the Mets.  The National League East has some of the best left-handed hitters in the league so it is crucial for the Mets to have a solid lefty specialist.

If Tankersley doesn't pan out for the Mets then they will most likely find a solid lefty specialist later in the season.  D.J. Carrasco was one of the Diamondbacks' best relievers last year and he can be an effective long man in the bullpen. 

Carrasco can play the role of Hisanori Takahashi in 2011.  Takahashi pitched long relief for the Mets and he also made some starts for the team when they had injury problems or needed to give their pitchers another day of rest. 

Carrasco may play a similar role but that doesn't mean that he won't be given a chance to win the setup job.  As of now, Carrasco, Bucholz and Parnell are the front runners for the setup job.  If Carrasco doesn't win that then he will most likely be a seventh inning man who can long relieve and make spot starts.

Taylor Bucholz has an ample amount of potential.  He just hasn't been able to translate his talent into consistent success.  This is a crucial year for Bucholz; he can either make or break his career.  Bucholz will compete for the setup job and he should make a pretty good case to win the job.  He was a great signing for the Mets and he has the potential to be a key part of the Mets bullpen this season.

Bobby Parnell will be returning to the Mets, and so will Manny Acosta.  Acosta was a pleasant surprise for the New York Mets last season; he should make a great middle relief man this season.  Parnell is a young guy who has a lot of potential.  He is a flamethrower and he routinely hits the upper 90s on the radar gun, and even hits 100 on occasions.

Parnell will also be competing for the job to set up Francisco Rodriguez.  Parnell has a big chance to be a key part to the Mets bullpen.  Parnell has a solid array of pitches and he has one of the best fastballs in the game.  If Parnell can control his fastball and still throw it in the upper 90s then he will be a great reliever.

Parnell is the ideal setup man: he is a power pitcher and if you tell him to go out there and give it all he's got then he will blow batters away.  He has the ability to strike out many hitters and he can also set up Francisco Rodriguez perfectly.

When teams go from seeing a 100-mph fastball one inning to a nasty curveball in the mid-80s, they will be off on their timing.  Parnell is a great player and he will allow K-Rod to throw many of the batters off.

Francisco Rodriguez had an up-and-down season last year.  Right when he started to get in a groove, he got into a tussle with his father-in-law.  That messed up his whole season and many fans wanted him out of Queens.  Fans forgot how good Rodriguez actually is.

Rodriguez has the potential to be one of the best closers in the game.  Although he gives Mets fans mini heart attacks every time he takes the mound, he almost always gets the job done.  He has a knack for getting saves, and he has loads of talent.

This Mets bullpen has a lot of potential and it can help lead the team to a winning season.  Bullpens are crucial to a team's success and the Mets are going to need all the help they can get.  If this bullpen doesn't perform up to its potential then the team will be in trouble, but if it does then the Mets could have one of the best bullpens in the league.  This bullpen might not be the sexiest, but it has the potential to get the job done night in and night out.