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Bullpen Hijinks

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With the three runs he coughed up in two innings of work last night Guillermo Mota has now allowed at least one run in thirteen of his 36 appearances this season since returning from suspension. To refresh your memory a bit, Mota was suspended following last season for taking drugs which he felt would somehow make him better at playing baseball. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. One thing is for sure, though: he is currently terrible at playing baseball.

For reasons unbeknownst to me and possibly knownst only to Willie Randolph and the Ceti eels that Mota has surreptitiously implanted in his manager's mustache, Randolph continues to have confidence in Mota's ability to enter a game and not immediately render that game unwinnable. I'm willing to give Randolph the benefit of the doubt; I assume that when he says he has "confidence" in Mota he is just trying to show support for one of "his guys" even though he really thinks what we're all thinking: Really? Mota? Again? Really.

For those keeping score, after last night's "business as usual" appearance by Mota his ERA is 6.28 and his WHIP is 1.44. The average National League reliever has a 4.06 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. The average National League reliever isn't exactly the guy you want to bring into a close game if you have designs on (a) winning that game, and (b) ultimately winning your division. Mota has been decidedly worse than average yet Randolph has no qualms about inserting him into high leverage situations in games that aren't entirely out of reach for one of the teams involved.

I don't think Randolph is a terrible manager but I *do* think that he does a rather shabby job of managing and utilizing his bullpen. He did a great job of it last season because he didn't have many difficult decisions to make. Billy Wagner was great, Aaron Heilman was great, Duaner Sanchez was great, everyone was great. This year there is a lot more uncertainty between the starting pitchers and Wagner and Randolph, bless his heart, is entirely overwhelmed and I'm frankly surprised that his head hasn't exploded already from all of this thinking.

Jorge Sosa had a fortunate first couple of months to the season but he eventually turned back into a pumpkin. He has realized a little bit of success now that he has been reassigned to the bullpen but his arm is probably going to fall off now that he is being called on almost every day to pitch in all manner of situations. Between August 9 and August 21, a span of thirteen days and eleven games, Sosa appeared in nine games and pitched ten innings, posting a very respectable 3.60 ERA and 6-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Here are the run differentials of the games he entered during that stretch:

Tied: 0
One run: 5
Two runs: 1
Three runs: 0
Four runs: 3

Sosa has also been used anywhere from the sixth through the eighth innings so if I'm a bit confused I can only imagine how Sosa feels. If Randolph is going to lean on Sosa as a late innings guy then why is he coming into games with a four-run differential? And whither Pedro Feliciano? Little Pedro was a god in the first few months of the season and now he's some kind of bullpen pariah. Feliciano has appeared in four games since August 9, fewer than half the number of times Sosa's number has been called. Somebody on the coaching staff must have noticed that Sosa is in there every day while Feliciano rots on the bullpen bench. Guy Conti and Rick Peterson are certainly on top of these things and they undoubtedly communicate said information to Randolph, so where is this ridiculous game of telephone getting mangled? Somewhere between Randolph's ears and his brain, one might assume.

The Mets can afford to inadequately utilize their bullpen when they're beating up on the Nationals, but they clearly can't afford it against would-be playoff teams like the Padres and they certainly won't be able to afford it come playoff time when each game is another potential nail in the coffin. Oh well, I guess we can't fight the fire so we may as well enjoy the warmth.