Monday, June 27, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Reemergence of Josh Edgin could make club rethink Antonio Bastardo

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

The weakest link in the Mets bullpen chain snapped 
in 5-2 loss against the last place Braves Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

NEW YORK METS: Someone please stop Antonio Bastardo before he causes any more damage..

Sunday in Atlanta, Roosevelt Avenue urban legend Bartolo Colon lowered his ERA to a heroic 2.86 mark after limiting the Braves to a run on six hits and a walk over seven innings pitched, with two strikeouts, yet exited the game on the losing side of a then 1-0 game.

At the very least, the afternoon perfectly demonstrated how an amazingly anemic offense through May and June has exacted a measurable toll on the Mets starting pitching, and the team's overall division standing.

It's a condition which in turn revealed the bullpen as the main reason why the Mets remained above .500 through Spring, and why they still find themselves within reach of first place today.

But how much longer can this last?

In a typical baseball year, the bullpen is most usually a team's major point of contention.  Yet, despite numerous injuries affecting the Mets active roster this season, their pen has generally remained surprisingly healthy, and indeed emerged to become the team strength.

Only recently, did Jim Henderson become the first real casualty to speak of.  Otherwise, the other main members of the relief corp - Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, and Antonio Bastardo - have been available throughout.

Jeurys Familia, in particular, has been perfect.  The closer nailed down his 26th consecutive save in 26 save opportunities Saturday night in Atlanta, thus setting the Mets all-time record previously held by Armando Benitez.

Next in, Jerry Blevins has undoubtedly been among the Mets most effective relievers this season, along with Addison Reed and Hansel Robles.

The aforementioned relievers all took their turn having a one bad month out of three, but otherwise performed well for at least two - all except for Henderson and Bastardo, that is.

The Mets were taking a known gamble with Jim Henderson, who previously underwent right shoulder surgery in 2014, and spent all of 2015 rehabbing.  After posting a 1.08 ERA in April, his campaign turned for the worse, again, when ultimately he was determined to be suffering an impingement in his right shoulder.  Henderson was placed on the disabled list earlier this week, and replaced on the roster with lefty Sean Gilmartin.

Antonio Bastardo, however, has no such excuse.  He's is a 30 year old, eight year major league veteran who previously enjoyed personal success with the Phillies and Pirates.  His velocity is still on par with previous seasons, but the 2016 season has so far easily been his worst. Antonio is teetering near career highs in ERA, FIP, WHIP, W/9 average, H/9 average, and near career low levels in K/9 average, and K/W ratio.

After posting a 2.61 ERA in April, Bastardo registered a 5.73 ERA in May and presently owns a 5.40 ERA in June, for a bullpen topping overall 5.46 ERA.  Based on his performance alone, it would appear Antonio Bastardo is most responsible for the Mets swollen bullpen ERA since April, barring anyone named Henderson, that is.

  • Team Slugging 4th
  • Runs Scored - 7th
  • Bullpen ERA - 2.52
  • Team Slugging - 11th
  • Runs Scored - 13th
  • Bullpen ERA - 3.70
  • Team Slugging - 13th
  • Runs Scored - 15th
  • Bullpen ERA - 3.24

In 1.2 innings covering his last three appearances, Bastardo allowed five earned runs on five hits and one walk, with one strikeout, one HBP, and a balk to boot.  The latter happened during Sunday's meltdown, in which Antonio failed to retire a batter in relief of Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Braves.

After surrendering a lead-off infield single to Ender Inciarte, Antonio mindlessly balked him over to second with a fake throw to first - of all things.  Bastardo then walked Freddie Freeman.  Having clearly lost his bearing, Antonio ignored shouts, and ponderously allowed Inciarte to freely wander far off second base, and easily steal third.  Naturally, Ender Inciate then scored on Nick Markakis' single, putting an end to Bastardo's day, and giving the Braves a 2-0 lead en route to an eventual 5-2 Atlanta victory.

His acquisition was originally hailed as a savvy move.  Three months into this, though, he's done everything to strain the patience of all concerned.  Now, his ineffectiveness, and his contract, have unfortunately created a problem, that could, and should be rectified, but can't.

Or can it?

There might come a time in the near future (before the trade deadline) when the Mets should revisit their contractual obligation to Antonio Bastardo by either trading him, or eating the money and releasing him.  He is due the balance of this year's $6 million salary, and another $6 million next year.

It's worth considering for several reasons, chief among them is Josh Edgin.

Unlike Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin's comeback efforts have gone more smoothly.  Wheeler was expected to rejoin the Mets perhaps by July but unfortunately suffered a setback during his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.  Edgin, meanwhile, has so far registered 25 combined and unhindered appearances with Port St. Lucie, but primarily for the Las Vegas 51s.

Edgin last featured a 93 mph fastball, and 85 mph slider and change-up in 2014 for the Mets.  After missing all of 2015, the southpaw so far has made 19 appearances for Las Vegas, where he presently owns a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings pitched, with 14 hits and 6 walks allowed, 18 strikeouts, a 1.286 WHiP, and an 11.6 K/9 average.

Why wouldn't his reemergence benefit the Mets, and maybe even force the front office's hand with regards to Antonio Bastardo?  The Mets have played 73 games to date, putting the midway point of the season just eight more games away.  So heading into the July non-waiver trade deadline, the idea is to take stock and formulate a plan for improving the team.  In fact, Mets COO, Jeff Wilpon, voiced a willingness to do just that.

There are many ways in which to win championships, National League or otherwise.  Throughout recent modern history, I've witnessed how bullpens can carry teams deep into post-season play, and even secure titles.  If the Mets can't slug their way to another National League pennant, as originally designed, then the bullpen scenario could very well become the Mets only recourse.

In Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Bobby Blevins, and young Hansel Robles, the Mets just might have the four horsemen to pull this off yet.  But they'll need help.  Assuming they remain healthy, the key for Sandy Alderson will lie in assembling a final group for the home stretch.

His options at Las Vegas are truly limited.  To begin with, the 51s are second to last in the Pacific Coast League with a 5.36 team ERA.

Logan Verrett, Erik Goeddel, perhaps Rafael Montero, and maybe even a fresh face in Vegas prospect Paul Sewald are left competing for one last right-handed spot.

Meanwhile, the Mets were already dealing with limited resources from the left side to begin with.  After Bastardo and Jerry Blevins, they retained Sean Gilmartin at Las Vegas in reserve, who has since been called up for active duty.   Otherwise, Josh Edgin represents a fourth known, and viable left-hander at the Mets disposal.   Beyond him, the Mets would be delving into the likes of Dario Alvarez.

Sandy Alderson, therefore, has an age old dilemma on his hands.  Does he address known deficiencies, or further bolster a team strength?  The acquisition of Jose Reyes just may have made that decision much easier to make.  I would suggest, then, Sandy Alderson make an aggressive search for quality relief pitching between now and the July trade deadline.  What they lack in offense, they can make up for by shortening games into proverbial six inning affairs.

In the meantime, if I were allowed to hit the delete button and reorganize the bullpen, Antonio would not make my top seven:
  • Closer - Jeurys Familia
  • RHP - Addison Reed
  • RHP - Hansel Robles
  • RHP - Logan Verrett (Jim Henderson)
  • LHP - Jerry Blevins
  • LHP - Sean Gilmartin
  • LHP - Josh Edgin
It's doubtful Bastardo would ever agree to a minor league demotion, therefore Sandy Alderson's options are limited, but clear.

This has fast become a situation where addition by subtraction would seemingly benefit the Mets.

Then again, I could be wrong.  But I doubt it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say what you feel. The worse comment you can make is the one you do not make.