The Mets’ recent winning streak has been predicated upon two main factors: their timely hitting and successful starting pitching. In order to keep this string of success going, the bullpen, which has remained a mystery, will be called upon to help support the team. In order ot get to heralded closer Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets will need to find answers to a few questions that arise regarding the 7th and 8th innings.
With Frankie Rodriguez striking out batters at a rate of 11.4 K/9, his best since 2007, K-Rod has been able to get out of more than a few 9th inning jams this year. Although he may be shaky at times, the former Angel has controlled the plate better and still remains a top 5 closer in the majors.
Along with Rodriguez, Pedro Feliciano has been brilliant for the Mets as their lefthanded specialist this season. Sporting a 1.99 ERA, he has been able to down some of the game’s top left-handed hitters such as Ryan Howard’s .125 BA against the lefty. With only 5 extra-base hits given in 56 ABs to lefties, Feliciano has been the rock in the pen for the Mets’ staff.
Beyond K-Rod and Feliciano, New York has very few reliable arms to count on in late game situations. This predicament, with the trade deadline looming, brings about the question of whether or not Omar Minaya will go after another quality reliever.
After the recent injury to young righthander Jenrry Meija, New York has lost another key cog to their pen. Although the fireballer may have battled control issues, he was a stabilizing force for the staff against both righties and lefties. Even though Elmer Dessens has filled in admirably, adding another win to his tally last night, the question remains on how long the 39-year old journeyman can maintain his 0.63 ERA.
The market, unlike in recent years, seems to be dry as few names jump out when talking about bullpen support. In every conversation Kerry Wood seems to be the prominent trading piece that most scouts bring up, but would the Mets take such a risk considering his injury history and high-octane personality. Octavio Dotel looks to be an intriguing name as the rise of Evan Meek in the Prates pen has made his position expendable. Although he had a difficult time in his first stint with the Mets, Dotel wouldn’t have to shoulder the pressures of closing games. The last name that most GMs bring up is the Major League saves leader Matt Capps. Even though Capps has been great for the Nationals this year and New York is a divisional rival, Washington has been committed to its youth movement and they have closer-of-the-future Drew Storen waiting in the wings.
Instead of going out and moving more prospects for middling relievers, the Mets should look internally for some depth. Already, New York has moved up former top prospect Bobby Parnell, who has looked sharp after a stint in the minors. After sacrificing some speed for improved control, Parnell has only given up 1 run in 6.2 innings to go along with nine strikeouts. On top of Bobby 100, Minaya has rising prospect Dillon Gee down in the minor leagues who would add an infusion of youth to the staff. While the prospect of a veteran may be too much for the Mets’ GM, for once Omar should stand pat and have faith in his own system.