What else is new? The New York Mets opened their 2020 spring training yesterday with several questions that need to be answered such as how the team will react o new manager Luis Rojas, who is going play where, and what (if any) impact Yoenis Cespedes will have this season. But no question is more burning than the annual conundrum of the lineup out in the bullpen.
Who is going to be the closer? John Harper of SNY.tv has a few thoughts. Rojas is willing to let things play out as they unfold, a lot like what Mickey Callaway did in pitching the hot hand. In fact, having undefined roles in the bullpen can be advantageous, but in the Mets’ case it’s being done because they just don’t have a bonafide closer. From Harper:
That would seem to open the door for all kinds of possibilities, considering that Seth Lugo was brilliant in the late innings last year, yet limited by the partial tear in his elbow ligament, which compromised his ability to be the full-time closer. And Dellin Betances could well return from injuries as a Yankee to being one of the best relievers in baseball.
Throw in the possibility that Jeurys Familia’s extreme weight loss could get him back on track — or so the Mets hope — as well as lefty Justin Wilson delivered dominance in the second half of last season, and this could be a ‘pen built for mixing and matching, as dictated by analytics.
But that usually sounds better in theory than it works in reality, as relievers prefer to know their roles and having a closer creates easier decision-making for the manager.
Edwin Diaz still figures to get the first crack, in part because Van Wagenen gave up so much to get him, but how Rojas goes about using his relievers will be a huge test for the new manager.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts here and none of them are ironclad solutions. Lugo and Betances coming off injury and the others all coming off down years. Forgive me if I’m not excited.
Baseball is a long season and things have a way of working out. But with all of this uncertainty Met fan would like to have a few more constants and a lot less variables in this haphazard equation.