Mets Bullpen: Fishing and Stomping

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

Closer/Setup Men:

Fishing for a closer?

Draft Jenrry Mejia and you may feel like doing this:

Since his arrival to the majors at age 20, Mejia and/or his defense has not done a good job preventing balls in play from becoming hits. He has a career .330 BABIP. Still Mejia was extremely effective last year once he transitioned to the full-time closer. Despite back issues and a sports hernia, as a reliever, he had a 2.72 ERA and a top 50 contact rate for relievers over 40 IP.

From a repertoire perspective, Mejia has the stuff to remain successful: two elite pitches (Curve and Slider) as well as a Sinker (despite low usage) – all of which induce a ton of whiffs. His Slider last year incurred misses over a standard deviation from the mean Slider (almost 43% of the time). His Curve was almost two standard deviations better than the average Curve (also a 43% whiff/swing rate). Next year, he should ensure more grounders as well.

Mejia’s Changeup is used to induce grounders and boy does it. According to BP’s PITCHf/x Leaderboard, Mejia’s Change had the 13th best gounder-per-balls-in-play rate for relievers last year (~70%). Unfortunately, based on usage (75 total), it did not show up in my Reliever Arsenal Score. If this and the Sinker were both included, his ranking of 108 would sky rocket into the top 30.

Speaking of arsenal scores (and writing Mets bullpen-related content), Jeurys Familia wound up in the top ten thanks to the 13th best Slider (just above Ken Giles for reference), 23rd best Sinker, which induces grounders 60% of the time and an above average fastball that strolls in around 97.5 MPH per BP’s PITCHf/x Leaderboard.

Still, Bobby Parnell’s return looms and Terry Collins perhaps already penciled him in to be the closer when he returns. Parnell just wants to be 100% by playoffs and knows the situation is in good hands in the interim.

The fantasy baseball saves situation gets even cloudier whenever Collins refers to Vic Black as another option in conjunction with Mejia and Familia. It’s a good old fashion fantasy baseball saves sh*t-show as a I like to call it.

Fortunately, for the Mets, it should be an overall good situation. If we look at the bullpen cores in the NL East and how they faired last year (for relievers with > 30 IP), the Mets wound up with the best overall ERA between Familia, Mejia, Carlos Torres, Vic Black, Buddy Carlyle and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Their combined 2.69 ERA finished just ahead of the Marlins’ 2.71 ERA. However, from a closer/set-up skills perspective (combined K-BB%, Contact and Swinging-Strike% combined, IFFB% and GB% weighted z-scores), both Mejia and Familia finish after Ken Giles, Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek. They finished ahead of Drew Storen, Jason Grilli, A.J. Ramos and Casey Janssen though.

Storen’s job is secure with the loss of Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano. Ken Giles is a most own if Papelbon gets moved. I would prefer to own Mejia over Familia, Black and even Parnell. The Mets need some excitement.

Based on RotoChamp’s projections, I have Mejia ranked 25th overall, but with the associated cloudiness, I could see Andrew Miller, Brett Cecil, and Ken Giles among others sneaking ahead of him depending on save situations. All four of these guys are Closer assets if they consume the role.

Also available out of the bullpen:

  • Victor Black has as much strikeout potential as anyone in the Mets’ bullpen as we can see from his elite minor league rates and a Curveball that induced more whiffs per swing than Craig Kimbrel’s. Luck last year in the three major categories though (HR/FB, IFFB% and BABIP) hid possible platoon and walk issues. He should be a devastating option against right-handed hitters.
  • Thanks to his Cutter and Curve, Carlos Torres is as or more effective versus lefties and is therefore an effective stop-gap prior to specialists, set-up men and closers coming in.
  • So long as his late-season elbow issues are behind him, Josh Edgin is another asset with excellent swinging-strike and groundball potential, but it seems like Collins has typecasted him into a lefty specialist. He made my rather exclusive Closer Through Outcomes Leaderboard, but that came with facing over twice as many lefties.

The Mets rotation combined with growth from the bullpen should keep the Mets in the pennant race if the offense can muster runs.

 

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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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Pat's Bat

Don’t forget Mejia started 7 games last year, giving him SP eligibility in some leagues. This could make him very valuable indeed, like brett Myers a few years ago.