That’s two in a row the Mets have lost now, and like a billion straight in which the bullpen looked awful. Forget that it’s 10 games into the year, that they have more wins than the Red Sox and Rays combined, that Yunel Escobar has a .458 batting average, that Willie Bloomquist has a 138 OPS+. Ignore that the Mets lost last night’s game mostly due to fluky errors, broken-bat hits and seeing-eye singles. The season might as well be over.
The bullpen is a problem and small-market Sandy Alderson stubbornly refused to spend money on the bullpen this offseason. Nevermind that it’s the second-most expensive bullpen in the division (to the wildly overpaid Phillies’ crew) and that spending a lot of resources on relief pitchers — see 2009 for details — is a blisteringly dumb way to go about building a bullpen. Forget that you know those things. Ignore them so you can be really angry because the Mets bullpen sucks and it’s not just a few rough nights it’s a damn pattern and everything is falling down all around us and, oh my goodness, we’re all going to die someday and we will have spent too many of our waking hours watching Bobby Parnell throwing the ball in the general direction of but not actually near the catcher.
And now that it’s out of your system, take a deep breath and think about the Mets’ bad bullpen for a moment. Its members have taken turns serving as goats, with only Tim Byrdak and the now-departed Blaine Boyer pitching consistently poorly, and really only Pedro Beato pitching consistently well — at least in that four outings can constitute consistency.
If I had to guess, I’d say — again — the main problem with the bullpen is not the personnel but the overuse thereof, since nearly every guy has been up and warming nearly every night. It’s no one’s Plan A to carry 13 relievers and a short bench, but the Mets have been forced to by early-season ineffectiveness throughout the pitching staff. I can’t imagine the roster will remain this way any longer than it needs to, and once the Mets can get a few decent starts in a row (and, ideally, their starting left fielder) they’ll shuffle things around and settle on a decent bullpen mix.
Last night’s outing notwithstanding, Parnell will probably be part of that mix when the dust clears. Yes, he’s off to a bad start. He also has over 100 outings before these four to show he’s a decent, if unspectacular, Major League reliever. Maybe he gets better from here, maybe he doesn’t. But entirely dismissing a 26-year-old with heavy 98 mph fastball because of a couple of rough — and they were definitely rough — outings in the first week and a half of the season is crazy talk. Settle down with that.
Settle down with everything. Seriously. Maybe the Mets suck, maybe they don’t, but 10 games is just way too few to assess anything meaningful. And I get that when I say, “It’s early, it’s early, it’s early” all the time I sound like a broken record. But it is early. I’m not about to tell you any of this is anything more than small samples in isolation when I don’t believe that’s the case.
Oh and the other thing: “Mike Pelfrey is not a No. 1 but the Mets need him to pitch like one.” No they don’t. No they absolutely don’t. They need him to pitch more like a legitimate Major Leaguer and less like he did in his first two starts, but there’s no rule anywhere that says the only way the Mets will be good is if Mike Pelfrey pitches like Johan Santana.
That’s good because there’s no way Pelfrey is going to pitch like Santana. Pelfrey is a durable league-average pitcher without swing-and-miss stuff. He’s a fine guy to have in a rotation but he’s unlikely to ever pitch like an ace for any sustained period of time because he yields too much contact. People seem to be off the “Mike Pelfrey is crazy” talk now that he threw a not-terrible game last night, but the “Mike Pelfrey needs to be an ace” discussion seems just as silly. Don’t get me wrong: The Mets do legitimately need their starting pitchers to pitch well and besides Chris Young they haven’t so far.
But… gahh it’s not even worth it. Let’s all just wring our hands until they bleed, or until the Mets win two games in a row and we all decide they’re surefire World Series champions again.