The Mets bullpen has been bad, but rotation isn’t helping

Michael Baron, Contributor

Over the first 16 games of the season, the Mets bullpen is 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA, having allowed 32 earned runs on 54 hits with 18 walks and 43 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings this season.

Josh Edgin 1 polaroidThe 5.47 bullpen ERA is the worst in baseball.

The Mets are technically 1-for-3 in save opportunities, although Bobby Parnell has had only one save opportunity in the last inning so far this season.

The Mets bullpen has been problematic – there is no question about that. There have been a few standouts, such as Scott Atchison, Bobby Parnell, Scott Rice, and Brandon Lyon. But like last year, they generally don’t strikeout a lot of hitters, meaning the opposition puts a lot of balls in play as a result. They have allowed a lot of base runners, but without a lot of guys who have the ability to strike hitters out consistently, they have difficulty in stranding base runners and preventing extra bases from being taken.

Now, this is not meant to serve as a defense for the bullpen – the numbers speak for themselves, and they are bad, again. But Dillon Gee, Jeremy Hefner, and Aaron Laffey have combined to average a shade over 4 1/3 innings per start. That means the bullpen is being asked to work an average of 4 2/3 innings in each of their starts, three out of every five days. And, they’re also working in Jon Niese’s and Matt Harvey’s starts, although to a far lesser degree. In those outings, the bullpen has performed¬†much better, primarily because the game for them is shorter and they don’t have to be either over-extended or overexposed.

It’s hard to expect the bullpen to perform consistently when they’re being asked to contribute to more than half a game three days a week. They¬†must begin to get more length from the starting rotation to not only preserve the bullpen, but to get more consistency out of them and protect them from pitching to their weaknesses in these longer outings.