The NL East champions ranked seventh in the NL with a 3.48 relievers’ ERA this season. Their top two closer candidates didn’t pan out, but they filled the role and had a decent season overall.
Two starters will be coming out of the bullpen for the Mets in Colon and Jonathon Niese. Colon could start Game 4, but with Matz on the official roster, it appears the start will go to the young left-hander. Colon pitched two games of relief during the season, but also made 31 starts. In relief, he pitched two scoreless innings this season and has a 3.26 ERA in eight relief appearances in his career. He’ll likely be the long man in any game in case the starters struggle. He allowed one run in eight innings against the Dodgers and got the loss because Kershaw threw a complete-game shutout. As for Niese, he will be the lone left-hander out of the bullpen for the Mets. He pitched in relief in four games (3.2 IP) and allowed just one run. He made 29 starts, finishing with a 4.13 ERA. He had reverse splits this season against lefties and righties; however, that comes from mostly starting pitching, which is a different mentality than left-handed specialist. He allowed left-handers to hit .305 with a .789 OPS. It’s unclear if the Mets plans to use him as a specialist or as a reliever who can pitch against anyone.
Erik Goeddel was a bright spot for the Mets in limited action. He finished with 2.43 ERA, 2.47 FIP and 0.990 WHIP in 35 appearances. He struck out 34 hitters in 33.1 innings. The right-handed has a decent fastball (avg. 93.1 MPH), but mostly relies on a cutter and changeup to get his out. Opponents had a .091 batting average against his cutter and an even smaller .059 BA against his changeup. Goeddel was slightly better against lefties than righties this season. He’ll be counted on in the sixth or seventh along with fellow reliever Hansel Robles. The 25-year-old appeared in 57 games with a 3.67 ERA, 3.91 FIP and 1.019 WHIP. Robles is a power pitching with a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. One reason the Mets were fine with one left-hander in the bullpen is that Robles also fares better against left-handers, holding them to a .167 BA this season.
In the later innings, the Mets can turn to two relievers with closing experience that they acquired via trade this season. Addison Reed came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in August and pitched to the tune of a 1.17 ERA in 17 games. He had a 4.20 ERA in 38 games with the DBacks before though. The right-hander is primarily fastball/slider and is another Mets reliever with better numbers against left-handers. He allowed a .270 BA to righties and a .253 to lefties. Reed will combine with Tyler Clippard to bridge the gap to closer Jeurys Familia. Clippard was acquired from the Oakland Athletics, where he served as a closer, and instantly became the setup man. Clippard pitched in 32 games for the Mets with a 3.06 ERA, 4.65 FIP and 1.052 WHIP. He struggled down the stretch, which allowed Reed to take some of the setup chances. The right-hander uses a fastball, changeup and splitter and held opponents to a BA under .191 with all three. He holds left-handers to a BA almost .100 points lower than right-handers. Clippard has allowed one run in six postseason appearances, all with the Washington Nationals.
If the Mets have a lead heading into the ninth inning, they will hand the ball to Jeurys Familia. Once Bobby Parnell struggled and Jenrry Mejia was suspended, the 25-year-old Familia took over the closer role. He ended the year with 43 saves and a 1.85 ERA, 2.74 FIP and 1.000 WHIP. The right-hander did blow five saves, including one against the Dodgers. Familia throws a heavy sinker and hard slider a majority of the time and he’s able to ramp it up to 100 MPH. He allowed runs in just one of his final 13 appearances.
The Dodgers have two left-handers in their bullpen and Wood is considered the long reliever for Games 1-3, giving them a third, technically. In the middle innings, expect to see Joel Peralta and Yimi Garcia. Peralta, who was a bit of a surprise on the official roster, used a strong finish to the season to make the team. In 33 appearances, he had a 4.34 ERA, 5.00 FIP and 1.241 WHIP; however, he allowed just two runs in his last eight appearances (9.0 IP). His velocity came back and he didn’t walk a batter. Peralta uses a fastball, sinker and cutter, but his sinker is his best pitch (.145 Opponent BA). He can pitch to both lefties and righties, as his splits this season favored lefties. Meanwhile, Garcia had an up-and-down season, literally, as he struggled at times and shuffled between Triple-A and the Majors. He ended up pitching in 59 games with a 3.34 ERA, 3.20 FIP and 0.953 WHIP. He struck out 68 in 56.2 innings pitched. The young reliever is also better against left-handers, but relies on his fastball a bit too much. His control in the zone has been an issue, as he doesn’t issue walks, but leaves too many pitches in the zone when he’s ahead in the count. If the Dodgers can settle with Peralta or Garcia seeing limited action, they will be happy.
The next wave of relievers includes Pedro Baez and J.P. Howell. Baez is a hard-throwing right-hander. He’s the only Dodgers reliever that can touch 100 MPH, although he sits at 97-98 most of the time. The converted third baseman had a 3.35 ERA, 2.51 FIP and 1.137 WHIP in 52 appearances, striking out 60 batters in 51 innings. He’s mostly fastball, slider and can mix in a two-seam fastball and a changeup. His slider and changeup were his best pitch, but his fastball can be good enough to get by anyone. Baez held right-handers to a .245 BA and left-handers to a .255 BA. He will be used in spots where the Dodgers need a strikeout. Howell had a weird season, as he had a 1.43 ERA despite a 3.34 FIP and a 1.386 WHIP. He appeared in 65 games, but tossed just 44 innings. Howell was a true left-handed specialist this year, holding lefties to a .224 BA while righties hit .318 against him. The left-hander throws a sinking fastball and a looping curve, meaning he gets a lot of ground balls, but it susceptible to the long ball with that curve. He’ll come in against left-handers in key spots.
To set the ninth for Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers will go to a duo in the late innings. Left-hander Luis Avilan and right-hander Chris Hatcher assume the duties. Avilan came over from the Braves in the deadline deal and has become a go-to reliever for Don Mattingly. His ERA is 5.17 and his WHIP is 1.149 as a Dodger, but his FIP is 3.64. He allowed runs in six of 23 appearances with three of those coming in three straight appearances. Avilan had 10.34 K/9 with the NL West champs. Most of his work came in tough spots with runners on base. He’s significantly better against right-handers this season (.210 BA vs RH against .271 BA vs LH). The left-hander uses a two-seamer and changeup a majority of the time, but he had better numbers with the changeup and four-seamer. He’ll be used in big moments or in addition to Hatcher in the eighth inning. For Hatcher, 2015 is a tale of two seasons: before and after his injury. Before the injury, Hatcher was one of the worst relievers for the Dodgers and after the injury, he was one of the best. We’ll focus on the latter when he pitches in 22 games and allowed just three earned runs. He struck out 26 hitters in 20.2 innings. Hatcher decreased his reliance on the four-seamer and used his off-speed pitches to help him improve. He will be expected to nail down the eighth inning.
Closing the door for the Dodgers is Kenley Jansen. The big right-hander saved 36 games with a 2.41 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 0.783 WHIP. He blew just two saves and struck out 80 batters in 52.1 innings. Jansen primarily throws a cutter, but can mix in a slider and a fastball. When he gets it going, his cutter can touch 95 MPH, although he sat 92-93 all year. The converted catcher has allowed runs in just one of his seven postseason appearances.
Advantage:Push(Every Dodgers reliever minus Yimi Garcia has been in the postseason, while Clippard and Colon are the only ones for the Mets. The Dodgers overall bullpen was inconsistent all year, but the seven on the roster have been their best.)