Noah Syndergaard gave credit to the Mets bullpen after a 4-2 win over the phillies. That was something that rarely was said last season because the pen finished next to last in baseball in ERA and struggled with a little of everything that we don’t need to rehash.
But this first week of 2018, a different tone to that bullpen. Credit rookie manager Mickey Callaway or Dave Eiland the new pitching coach but a strength of this team that goes with a 4-1 start is attributed to the bullpen. Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, and after Syndergaard threw 92 pitches in 4.0 innings, those trusted arms of this revamped pen did their job.
You couldn’t say that last year, and that included putting the trust in the closer Jeurys familia who converted his third save and 109th of his career. You couldn’t say good things about Hansel Robles either but the right hander, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, because of the injury to Anthony Swarzak, was superb.
Robles, 14 pitches and nine of them for strikes, including striking out the side in the seventh inning and that was a welcome reprieve.
“I Just want to start off by giving a lot of kudos and thanks to my homies in the bullpen,” said Syndergaard who left without a decision. “They really held down the fort.”
That Mets bullpen is starting to be the story after the first five games. Robles was a surprise this time and looked like a different pitcher after being one of the last cuts before Opening Day. There is never optimism when Robles takes the mound and Callaway saw a different approach after that seventh inning.
There is also a different type of bullpen. Whether it be that baseball version of one player feeding off another, well apparently it has worked with this Mets bullpen and for Hansel Robles. He had to work it out and apparently for the moment the wreck that was has been fixed.
Callaway said, “I think our bullpen has done a fantastic job this season, and we have faith in them. Everybody’s doing the right thing.” He gave credit to Robles for working things out.
The bullpen has allowed three runs in 20 ⅓ innings. That’s an ERA of 1.33 and overall Mets pitchers in five games have struck out a franchise record 61 strikeouts, so this has become the story before the first road trip that begins Thursday afternoon at the Washington Nationals, the team New York has to overtake in their division.
But if this bullpen performs up to par, and providing the starters give them some room along with offense, this could be special in that the Mets won’t be pretenders and could chase the Nationals instead of a projected NL wild card spot.
Time will tell of course with months of baseball and games left to play. However, AJ Ramos pitched an inning of scoreless ball out of the pen with his slider. and Callaway has additional strength to call upon with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
Lugo, the night before held down the Phillies and retired all six batters he faced. Four of the outs went for strikeouts. Gsellman tossed 2.0 perfect innings after Syndergaard and struck out three and got his first win of the season. That’s three games for Gsellman and not allowing a run in 3.23 innings with seven strikeouts.
Say it’s early, and yes it is. But this is something special along with Jerry Blevins coming out of the pen who has done his part. Again five games is something to brag about for the moment and there is a long way to go, however there is that extra bit of optimism and a component about this team with a pen that may have been skeptical.
With Michael Conforto, and perhaps coming off the disabled list in the series with Washington, sooner than expected, that is also a reason for optimism.
But it is this talk about the Mets bullpen. And it is the talk about Hansel Robles and if he has turned it around that makes this pen that more potent.
“What happened last year stay’s last year,” said Robles. “Just want to change people’s minds and do my best.” As of now, the Mets bullpen has changed the minds of many and it is all positive.