HomeTeamsMetsWhich Unit Do You Believe In More - Mets Starters Or Bullpen?

Which Unit Do You Believe In More – Mets Starters Or Bullpen?

And no, you don’t get to say neither or both. We all know both wasn’t really an option in the first place. Back home at Citi Field to face the red-hot Kansas City Royals the Mets have stabilized what was a dreadful start to the season. The hitting has come around, and some of the stars like Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil have not yet hit their stride. But the Mets were always going to be a decent hitting team. The success of the 2024 season has always rested upon the pitching staff.

The Mets have had good hitting, weak pitching teams in the past. The 1996 (71-91) Dallas Green and Todd Hundley-led team averaged 4.6 runs per game and batted .270 as a team, but the starting pitchers led by Mark Clark, who went 14-11 in 32 starts, along with Pete Harnisch and Bobby Jones, gave up 4.8 runs per game and never seemed to be able to hold a lead. If you think that’s more fun to watch than a team that has weak hitting but strong pitching, it’s not. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop is aggravating and too often deflating. 

With Kodai Senga having been moved to the 60-day IL, meaning he won’t pitch for the Mets before late May at best, the starting pitchers on the staff have an even bigger job to do, and that’s to save the bullpen from death by overuse. New Met starter Adrian Houser has had one good start and most recently a poor one vs. the Braves. Houser gave up five runs in his first four innings vs. the Braves and seemed like he wouldn’t even make it through the third inning.  Manager Carlos Mendoza stuck with Houser who surprisingly came out for the fifth inning and got through that frame unscathed. It seemed like a small thing at the time, but it saved the bullpen another inning or two, and the Mets rallied after seven innings only to fall one run short.

Houser going an extra inning or two in a bad start is meaningful to a bullpen that has the potential to be exhausted. Jose Quintana went six innings in his start Thursday vs. Atlanta but he, Sean Manaea, and spot starter Jose Butto are the only Met starting pitchers to go six innings in a game through the first 12 games. Even with the MLB average start was at 5.2 innings in 2023, if Mets starting pitchers go five innings or less 75% of the time, it will have the effect of running the bullpen into the ground.

Because the Mets don’t have an ace (right now), the starters collectively feel the weight of going as deep into the game as they possibly can. This is even if they are not fooling the hitters as was Adrian Houser on Thursday. Turning a game over to the bullpen regularly in or before the fifth inning, is not good for any pitching staff.

On a 13-man pitching staff, five starters leave eight relievers. The Mets have already cycled through the following relief pitchers:

Phil Bickford, Michael Tonkin, Yohan Ramirez

All have already been tried and then subsequently designated for assignment (DFA’d). Spot starter Julio Teheran has already come and gone throwing only 2.2 innings in one start. Replacing the dropped relievers are non-household names like Reed Garret and Cole Sluser. For now. Off-season pickup fireballer Shintaro Fujinami, is still apparently not ready for the bright lights of New York City. 

Closer Edwin Diaz has looked great in his return. Brooks Raley has been good, and Drew Smith has looked as good as he has in a long time. Adam Ottovino and Jorge Lopez have been a little up and down, but more good than bad. Lefty Jake Diekman has struggled. The Met bullpen is not all that deep, and much is being counted upon from 38-year-old Ottovino, and 36-year-old Raley. Their season-long reliability will likely be a key to the bullpen’s success.

So, in which unit do you have more confidence, the Met starters or bullpen? It’s a tough call but one thing is for certain, if both units aren’t consistently good one will drown the other.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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