Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Won't End Well...

Although the Mets Bullpen had pitched rather well as of late, with the exception of a lousy day or two here and there, and had begun to look better, particularly with the much-needed purging of the mostly worthless Manny Acosta (although Acosta's departure only meant the return of the mostly talentless Chris Schwinden), I felt a bit of an eerie premonition when Terry Collins removed Dillon Gee from the game following Brian Schneider's 7th inning double (as an aside, has anyone else noticed that Schneider came in to Citi Field playing in F-you mode?). It could have been the fact that I was sleepy; I'd pretty much slept through the 4th through 6th innings, and was only rousted by Duda's Homer. But for some reason, I felt like removing Gee from the game was the wrong move at that point. In spite of his high pitch count, Gee had been pitching rather well, and I felt like he probably could have gotten through Carlos Ruiz or whoever Philly would have sent up to hit for Lee there. But, nooooo, Collins came and pulled Gee for Bobby Parnell, Parnell confirmed my bad feeling by promptly smacking a game-tying Home Run, and things pretty much fell apart from there. Rauch gave up the lead run in the 8th, Ramon Ramirez struggled in the 9th, and Chris Schwinden was left in and shockingly took a Mule's beating at the end. Game, set, match.

The bullpen formula that Collins has been sticking to of late has yielded rather predictably unpredictable results. The predictable part, however, has begun to get downright annoying because Collins won't deviate from it at all. It's the same pattern because the reliable depth isn't there, or at least it's not yet in the Majors. But you can set your watch to Parnell in the 7th, Rauch in the 8th and Francisco in the 9th, assuming there's a save to be had. Aside from tonight, Parnell has pitched rather well and Rauch is somewhat inconsistent. So why not Parnell in the 8th? Why not Ramon Ramirez in the 7th? Why even have guys like Robert Carson or this Egbert fellow around if they're not going to get used? It's an age old problem that seems to have followed the Mets around for years now, this lack of a completely reliable bullpen. The primary reason is, of course, that relief pitchers are all idiots, and can't ever string together consistent performances, unless someone happens to catch lightning in a bottle for a season. This is why they're relief pitchers. If they were good, they'd be starting.

I realize that in a close game against a division rival, Collins wants to go with what he can trust. I get it. To this point, Collins has had a brilliant touch with this team, and that's the main reason that they're sitting at 28-23 at the end of May, and have put together a winning April and May for the first time since 2007. But at some point, Collins and Alderson are going to have to begin to mix things up in the bullpen a bit more. It's become a bit too easy to figure out how the Mets are going to go through late in games, and better teams aren't going to be quite so fooled.

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