The New York Mets are off to a fast start this season. At 14-6, they hold the second-best record in the National League, behind just the 15-6 Diamondbacks. However, despite their early success, this week has been a rough one, with the team losing four of six against the Nationals and Braves.
While you can’t win them all, two of these losses particularly stung. The first was Monday night against the Nationals.
The Mets held a 6-1 lead going into the 8th inning, where the bullpen completely imploded, allowing six runs as the team would go on to lose 8-6.
The second was eerily similar, this time on Saturday night against the Braves.
After taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the 8th inning, the Mets bullpen again lost control. They would allow two runs in the bottom of the inning and another two in the 9th to lose 4-3.
While the Mets bullpen has been one of its strongest units this season, these two games were particularly dreadful. The leading factor in these two collapses were the walks, with New York’s relievers issuing four free passes in the eighth inning against Washington and another three in the final two innings against Atlanta.
One of the biggest culprits has been a player the Mets have trusted as their eighth inning go-to guy: AJ Ramos.
With two men on and two already scoring in the eighth against Washington, Ramos was brought in to try and stop the bleeding. After striking out Ryan Zimmerman, Ramos surrendered a single to Pedro Severino before walking Matt Reynolds to force in a run. He was subsequently removed from the game.
On Saturday night, Ramos not only didn’t stop the bleeding, but was the cause of the initial runners on base. Coming in to start the eighth after a brilliant seven innings from starter Jacob deGrom, Ramos walked two of the first three batters he faced. He was removed in favor of Jerry Blevins, who gave up a double to Freddie Freeman that scored both runners.
Walks have been a huge problem for Ramos throughout his career, but even more so in his tenure with the Mets. In his six years in Miami, Ramos averaged 4.8 walks per nine innings. In his 34 games with New York, Ramos is averaging 6.8 walks per nine. In 13 outings so far this year, he has allowed nine walks in nine innings.
Ramos’ command issues have seemingly only gotten worse with each passing year. With his extremely shaky control, it would not be surprising to see the Mets replace Ramos with a new eighth inning reliever, one they can actually rely on to get the outs in close games.
One candidate for the job could be Robert Gsellman. Gsellman has taken a huge step forward for the Mets this season, becoming one of the teams best and most consistent relievers. In 12.1 innings pitched thus far, Gsellman has allowed just three runs while striking out 18 and walking only five.
While Gsellman is best suited in long relief, given his past as a starter, the Mets could look to start to go to him in the eighth inning as a dependable bridge to Jeurys Familia to close out games.
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