By Rich Coutinho
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Sandy Alderson had a vision going into the offseason, and that was to re-shape the Mets’ bullpen.
He planned to do it with a mixture of veterans and youth, acquiring Ramon Ramirez, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco while retaining the incumbent relievers he thought showed the most promise: Tim Byrdak, Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell and Miguel Batista. And in the first four games of the season, each of those hurlers has contributed to the team’s perfect 4-0 start.
Francisco has been the biggest revelation as his spring training was less than inspiring. But he has shown a late-moving fastball coupled with a dangerous splitter, which has helped him become the first Mets closer ever to save the first three games of the season.
On Monday night, the Mets enjoyed their first walk-off of the season while giving their closer the night off. Rauch, Ramirez and Batista all played huge roles in the win, getting big outs as the bullpen has now surrendered only one run over 13.1 innings of work. And considering the ‘pen ranked 28th in the majors last year with a 4.33 ERA, you can see why the Mets are 4-0.
“What I had to decide in the offseason,” said Sandy Alderson,”is did I want to spend all my money on one reliever, or spread the budget around to build a potentially deep bullpen that would serve us well on the nights our closer was not available.”
Those words proved to be prophetic in just the fourth game of the season as the Mets pieced nine innings of pitching together with a variety of hurlers.
This group of relievers could serve the Mets well in the early going, as the team plays their first 12 games inside the National League East. They can really set the tone early: the Mets do not intend on being the doormat in this division. The Braves are off to an 0-4 start, the Phils are 1-3, The Marlins are 2-3 with a plethora of behind the scenes issues and the Nats are 2-2.
Who would have ever expected the Mets to be 4-0 after four games, sitting in the NL East penthouse?
I’ll tell you who: this Mets bullpen.
“I know people do not think much of us,” says Bobby Parnell, “But that is OK. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. It is our job to prove them wrong.”
They just might. And if they do, Sandy Alderson’s master plan of reshaping the bullpen would have been a big reason why.
Do you think the Mets can keep it up? Be heard in the comments below…