COMMENTARY | Make sure the ringer on your phone is turned all the way up. It might be New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson calling.
Despite Alderson's attempts to revamp the bullpen for the 2013 season, the Mets find themselves in a similar situation to the one they were in last year. Their bullpen is one of the worst -- if not the worst -- in baseball. If you can throw a baseball, perhaps the Mets will give you a shot next.
Right now, the bullpen is the weakest part of the team, and that's saying a lot given how bad the Mets have been while losing five of their last six games.
The Mets have lost four in a row, dropping three games under .500 for the first time this year. They sit in fourth place, right where we thought they'd be all along. And for the second year in a row, the Mets' bullpen is a big reason why they're there.
It's becoming almost as predictable as the national anthem being played before the game. As soon as the Mets go to the bullpen, the game is essentially over. Think that's a bit harsh? Take a look at what happened over the past week.
Last Tuesday, after Jonathon Niese left the game early after getting hit in the leg by a comebacker, the bullpen allowed six runs in six and 1/3 innings of work, including three runs in the seventh inning charged to Brandon Lyon and two in the eighth inning charged to Josh Edgin. The Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers were tied 2-2 entering the seventh inning. The Dodgers beat the Mets 7-2.
Last Thursday, Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell allowed two ninth-inning runs that led to a 3-2 Dodgers' win. That spoiled a great pitching performance by Jeremy Hefner.
On Saturday, it was Robert Carson's turn. He gave up a three-run home run to Ryan Howard and a solo shot to Domonic Brown, part of a five-run fifth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies that gave them an 8-2 lead. Game over.
Yesterday, New York and Philadelphia were tied 1-1 in the seventh inning when Mets manager Terry Collins made the call to the bullpen with two on and two out. Scott Atchison responded by serving up a two-run double to Howard and a run-scoring single to Chase Utley. Lyon would allow a run an inning later. The Phillies won 5-1 to complete the series sweep.
So the Mets' bats have gone cold and unless Matt Harvey pitches you really don't have much confidence in the team at all. But the bullpen is the major concern 23 games into the season. This is a bullpen that finished with a 4.65 earned run average last year. So far this season, their ERA is 5.35.
Hard to believe, but it's gotten worse.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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