Coming into the 2021 season, the New York Mets bullpen was a major question mark. They added both Trevor May and Aaron Loup during free agency while letting Justin Wilson walk. The Mets counted on two of their late-inning relief pitchers to have bounce-back seasons in Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances. Additionally, early in the Spring, New York lost their most dependable reliever in Seth Lugo. They have seen their bullpen struggle through the first five games of the season.
Early Season Struggles
The struggles started early as the Mets let a 2-0 lead on opening day get away. While Miguel Castro was sharp in his first outing, May faltered in the eighth inning before Loup poured gasoline on the fire. Despite being hurt by an error, the two allowed five runs (three earned) after a spectacular start to the season from Jacob deGrom.
The Mets had a big lead in game two and did come away with the victory. However, Familia was not sharp in his inning. New York then got one appearance from Betances before he was placed on the injured list. Jacob Barnes, who is a candidate to be the Mets’ opener for the day Joey Luchessi pitches, allowed a home run on his first pitch as a Met.
Since it is only the first week of the season, all these relievers will continue to get chances. However, since manager Luis Rojas has shown he is hesitant the first time around the rotation to let starters go deep, New York needs to find spots for their pitchers to succeed.
Mets Bullpen Options Moving Forward
In a small sample size, Castro has been one of the arms Rojas trusts the most. He will likely continue to pitch the seventh or eighth innings with May. Rojas showed last year that he is willing to let certain relief pitchers throw multiple innings. Both Familia and Robert Gsellman, who has yet to pitch this year, are candidates to do that.
Loup’s job all season is to get the big left-handed hitter out. While he faltered against Bryce Harper, he will see plenty more action against Freddie Freeman and Juan Soto later this year.
If Barnes will be an opener, they would likely have him available in between his starts and should see himself in low leverage situations with Trevor Hildenberg. If the Mets top arms continue to struggle, those two may be counted on in late-game situations.
The most important piece of the bullpen right now is Edwin Diaz. After a miserable first season with New York, he bounced back last year. The Mets need to be able to have that one lockdown reliever, and that needs to be their closer.
When Lugo comes back, it will definitely strengthen the backend. He is someone that can pitch multiple innings and close out games. Drew Smith is a potential option down the road. Until then, the Mets are going to need to have a few pitchers step up if they are going to want to compete this year.
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Trevor May, Aaron Loup, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Seth Lugo, Miguel Castro, Jacob deGrom, Jacob Barnes, Luis Rojas, Robert Gsellman, Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto, Trevor Hildenberg, Edwin Diaz, and Drew Smith.