The New York Mets finished 86-76 last year, missing the playoffs by just three games. If they hope to return to the postseason in 2020, they will need to be better across the board.
Pitching, of course, is a big part of that – and Keith Hernandez has doubts about the Mets’ bullpen.
“I have my reservations,” the two-time World Series champion and Mets analyst said on The Zach Gelb Show. “There’s no guarantee. [Jeurys] Familia has looked really, really good. You got [Dellin] Betances, who had an Achilles injury last year at the end of the year. He’s a 260-pound guy, and that’s a tough injury for an athlete. He’s certainly got great stuff. He’s closed before.”
And then there’s Edwin Diaz, who last year gave up 15 home runs, had a 5.59 ERA and lost the closing job late in the season.
“There’s question marks about Diaz,” Hernandez said. “Diaz had a terrific year in Seattle two years ago, and last year he had probably – in my professional baseball experience as a player and in the booth – the worst year of any closer I’ve ever experienced. He handled it well; he just got beat up. Is he going to bounce back? I haven’t got a crystal ball.”
Is it possible that no fans in the stands could help Diaz?
“He’s still under the glare,” Hernandez said. “People are watching. They’re not going to be there, but the fans are going to be watching. Fans in general are starving for baseball. There’s still social media, which wasn’t around when I played. The players seem to pay attention to social media. Why they do, I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to hear all that noise on the internet. Just focus on what I have to do at the plate and my job everyday. But they’re involved. They tweet and they’re in the middle of all this. This is what the world’s become, and I don’t think it’s healthy.
“So I don’t know,” Hernandez continued. “There’s still going to be the pressure of performing, and when you go out there – whether there’s fans or not – if you’re not getting the job done, you lose your confidence. So he’s going to have to go out there and pitch. He’s going to be the closer, but with a 60-game schedule, it’ll be a short leash if he gets off to a tough start. . . . So there’s a lot of question marks. Pitching is the name of the game. The Mets will either rise or sink with their pitching staff.”