The Mets possess abundant power in both their batting order and starting rotation, but no fan or pundit would have cited the bullpen as a reason they will go the distance in 2016. If anything, it might have stood out as a question mark. It's still too early to erase any fears, but the team's relievers have eased anxious fans with a rousing start.
The Mets' bullpen has collectively registered an MLB-best 2.01 FIP, and its 2.54 ERA doesn't trail far behind. Only the New York Yankees, buoyed by strikeout monsters Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, boast a better K/9 than the Mets' 11.03.
That excellent rate is in spite of Jeurys Familia collecting nine strikeouts in 11 innings. He has also relinquished a concerning 17 baserunners while wielding slightly-diminished velocity, but the second-year closer has recorded saves with one-two-three outings in back-to-back games.
The heavily worked closer is not mowing batters down like last season, but everyone else has upped their game. Addison Reed is performing well in the setup role, as he's allowed three runs with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 12 innings. Along with notching a 14.1 percent swinging-strike rate, his 34.5 fly ball percentage is below his career 43.2 clip.
Once Terry Collins started trusting Antonio Bastardo, the offseason addition quickly established himself as a high-leverage reliever. The 30-year-old southpaw has accumulated 15 strikeouts in 9.1 innings. He's more than a left-handed specialist, but none of the 13 lefties he encountered has gotten an extra-base hit.
A returning Jerry Blevins gives the Mets their lefty specialist. While Collins shouldn't keep testing his luck, the veteran southpaw has actually retired all seven righties he has faced. Jim Henderson, who hadn't pitched in the majors since early 2014, has proved an unexpected revelation, tallying 12 strikeouts and yielding one run in 7.2 innings.
Perhaps the most encouraging development of all, Hansel Robles's results have matched his sizzling stuff. Carrying over last year'rs promising second half, the 25-year-old righty boasts a 1.81 ERA and 1.01 FIP, fanning 15 batters in 10 frames. At this rate, he'll join Bastardo and Reed as a late-inning, high-leverage option.
Outside of Noah Syndergaard, the rotation hasn't achieved world domination like anticipated. It still, however, leads everyone with a 2.30 FIP. Jacob deGrom's return also bolsters the bullpen, where Logan Verrett now resides after two scoreless spot starts. The 25-year-old has made three relief appearances over the past five days, most recently tossing two scoreless frames on Tuesday night.
Collins faces the unenviable task of preserving his young starters without overextending his relievers. As a long reliever who can offer two or three quality innings at a time and an occasional start when necessary, Verrett will prove a vital piece to the puzzle. He'll also help avoid situations like on April 13, when Henderson struggled the day after throwing 34 stressful pitches.
Last October, most Mets fans took a trip to Panic City whenever a starting pitcher exited the mound for a reliever besides Familia. Small sample sizes are especially variable when dealing with relief pitchers, but the bullpen has been an asset for the Mets so far.