Before baseball’s trade deadline passed on Friday afternoon, it was fairly obvious that the Mets’ bullpen needed some help. The Mets, however, decided to make just one trade that day, bringing in Javier Báez and Trevor Williams, the latter of whom the team optioned to Syracuse immediately upon his arrival. But the Mets did not trade for a single relief pitcher.
On Thursday night, the night before the deadline, with the Mets trailing by three runs going into the ninth, Akeem Bostick got the ninth. The soft-tossing righty managed to throw a scoreless inning, but he was designated for assignment the next day.
On Friday night, just a few hours after the deadline has passed, the Mets got an encouraging performance from Carlos Carrasco is his Mets debut following a very long stint on the injured list. They followed that up by deploying Miguel Castro and Drew Smith, each of whom gave up one run. With the team down two runs going into the ninth inning, Anthony Banda was summoned from the bullpen and surrendered three runs. Banda was designated for assignment the following morning.
On Sunday, Marcus Stroman wasn’t at his best, but he was pulled from the game having allowed three runs in five-and-two-thirds innings. Castro issued back-to-back walks to force in a run—which was charged to Stroman—before he got out of the inning. Yennsy Diaz and Drew Smith gave the Mets a scoreless inning apiece. The Mets’ offense had been mostly dormant, but the team was trailing by just three runs when Geoff Hartlieb was brought in to pitch the ninth. Like Banda on Friday night, Hartlieb gave up three runs, turning a three-run deficit into a six-run deficit.
When a team is trailing going into the ninth inning, the odds of winning aren’t all that high. But in both of these games, Luis Rojas didn’t have any good options for the situation he faced. He could use one of the Mets’ better relievers, potentially affecting their ability to pitch in more favorable high-leverage situations in the days that followed each game. Or he could bring in a pitcher like Bostick, Banda, or Hartlieb, giving his best relievers rest and hoping to avoid the worst.
A first-place that that is looking to remain in first place to clinch its first division title since 2015 and make some noise in the playoffs could have and should have done something to address the issue. Instead, the Mets did nothing, even though there are no bullpen reinforcements on the way within the organization.
The best case scenario now involves all of the team’s starting pitchers getting and staying healthy at the same time with one or more of those pitchers sliding into the bullpen. If that doesn’t happen, though, the Mets are stuck with what they have right now. They didn’t have to be.