2011 Postmortem: Relief Pitchers

2011 Postmortem: A position-by-position look back at the season with some preliminary thoughts on 2012. And the bullpen edition is only a couple months late!

Reliefpitcherpostmortem_medium

The bullpen was average-ish in 2010 but downright dreadful in 2011. It hasn't been good since 2006, when it was the best in the league. It was especially awful after the All Star Break, which makes sense considering Francisco Rodriguez was shipped off to the Brewers in mid-July. Rodriguez was enjoying a fine season with the Mets but the salary relieving trade was welcomed by most. Jason Isringhausen, Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta took turns closing after Frankie's departure, with mixed results. No one is clamoring for any of the three to be the closer (or relief ace, if you prefer) in 2012.

Fun fact: the Mets top five starting pitchers by innings pitched (R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee) each appeared in relief this season.

For this post, relievers who pitched at least ten innings out of the 'pen will be covered. I'll play word association (what comes to mind when I hear the pitcher's name), provide a semi-interesting number/statistic from 2011 and share some thoughts on the pitcher's Mets future.

Pedro Beato

  • Word Association: Ozone Park
  • Notable Number: 67, Beato's team-leading number of innings pitched out of the bullpen.
  • Future: Cool things about Beato: his name, his height, his hometown hero story, his aesthetically pleasing mechanics, his longtime Mets fandom, the fact that he can be stashed at Triple-A next season. Uncool things about Beato: his strikeout rate, his control, his underwhelming secondary pitches. Rule 5 pick Beato lasted the season in the big leagues so he didn't have to be shipped back to the Orioles. He is Mets property for the time being. However, that doesn't guarantee him a spot on the Opening Day roster. He'll likely have to compete for that but should log some big league innings in 2012 no matter if he starts off at Triple-A.

Bobby Parnell

  • Word Association: Faptain Castball
  • Notable Number: .335, Parnell's career BABIP in 187.2 innings pitched.
  • Future: Parnell still throws smoke, still sports the predictable pitch sequencing and still costs next to nothing. Barring a traid, he's the third or fourth guy out of the bullpen next season.

Manny Acosta

  • Word Association: "What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullsh*t, man!"
  • Notable Number: +1.07, Acosta's bullpen-best Clutch score.
  • Future: I've been an Acosta defender going on two seasons now. For some reason, he's a whipping boy for fans. "Oh no, Acosta's coming in! We all know how this ends!" Yet in 86.2 innings with the Mets he has a 3.22 ERA and 2.67 K/BB ratio. He is -- dare I say -- a good pitcher. Plus there's this (via Big Hair And Plastic Grass):

Acostafro_medium

Jason Isringhausen

  • Word Association: Billy Taylor
  • Notable Number: 23, Izzy's team-leading number of shutdowns. A shutdown is awarded if a reliever increases his team's Win Probability Added by 6% during an appearance.
  • Future: The season's big stories were the expected and then departures of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Both sagas were more depressing than uplifting, so Izzy's successful Flushing comeback offered a needed non-LOLMets storyline. That said, it's best for the Mets to bid a final farewell. Izzy would probably accept only a major league deal and there's no reason to offer him one.

D.J. Carrasco

  • Word Association: Walk-off balk
  • Notable Number: 1, the number of walk-off balks committed by Carrasco.
  • Future: Carrasco lost two mph off his fastball this season and was down three mph from 2009. Unsurprisingly, his strikeouts dropped and it was one long debacle in 2011. He's under contract through next season and is set to make $1.2 million. Thankfully, it's a small amount so no tears will be shed if (when?) Carrasco contributes nothing.

Francisco Rodriguez

  • Word Association: Perp-Rod
  • Notable Number: $17.5 million. You know.
  • Future: The Brewers will pay Perp-Rod something like $14 million next season to be a set-up man. Enjoy.

Ryota Igarashi

  • Word Association: Sir, you are no Hisanori Takahashi
  • Notable Number: 6.00, Igarashi's BB/9 in 69 career innings as a Met.
  • Future: The Igarashi experiment didn't go well. It happens. He's a free agent and it's hard to imagine any MLB team will have interest.

Tim Byrdak

  • Word Association: Photobomber
  • Notable Number: 11.2%, Byrdak's team-leading swinging strike rate.
  • Future: Byrdak had a fine season and the Mets rewarded him with a $1 million contract for 2012. If he can hold lefties to a .604 OPS and a 2.06 FIP again it would be most welcome.

Taylor Buchholz

  • Word Association: Clay
  • Notable Number: 3.71, Buchholz's K/BB ratio this season.
  • Future: Buchholz pitched great for five weeks or so before hitting the disabled list with shoulder problems and a bout of depression. He is currently a free agent and it remains to be seen if he wants to pitch in 2012. Hopefully everything goes well for him.

Josh Stinson

  • Word Association: The new Tobi Stoner
  • Notable Number: 5.1%, Stinson's bullpen-worst swinging strike rate.
  • Future: Stinson is said to have strong stuff but was mediocre in his MLB cameo this season. If he has a big league future it's in the bullpen. He starts 2012 at Triple-A.

Dale Thayer

  • Word Association: 'stache
  • Notable Number: 0, combined number of walks and home runs allowed by Thayer in 10.1 innings pitched.
  • Future: Thayer signed a minor league contract with the Padres this past week. He'll bring a 92 mph fastball and an off-and-on Johnny Cakes moustache to San Diego:

Dalethayer_medium

Some other internal and external bullpen options for the Opening Day roster include Miguel Batista, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Todd Coffey, Chad Durbin, Frank Francisco, Mike Gonzalez, Daniel Herrera, Brad Lidge, Sergio Mitre, Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch, Francisco Rodriguez, Chris Schwinden, George Sherrill, Dan Wheeler and Kerry Wood. For the sake of completeness here are my desired and projected 2012 bullpens:

Note: I created my desired bullpen in early November (except for Ramon Ramirez). Believe it or not.

Desired 2012 bullpen: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Daniel Herrera

Projected 2012 bullpen: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Chris Schwinden

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