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Mets bullpen sending signals it might be turning it around

Jerry Blevins of the New York Mets celebrates

Jerry Blevins of the New York Mets celebrates the final out of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Citi Field. July 21, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Over the weekend, the Mets bullpen took its first steps toward leaving a disastrous first half behind.

Mets relievers have thrown seven scoreless innings since Friday, helping keep the door open for a pair of comeback victories in their series win against Oakland. The club lost the series finale Sunday, but still got scoreless innings from Fernando Salas and Josh Smoker.

It has been a welcome development for the club, as the Mets’ bullpen posted a 5.03 ERA going into the All-Star break, which was the third-highest in the majors. After accounting for the park effects of pitcher-friendly Citi Field, the unit’s adjusted ERA was 22 percent higher than average and the worst in baseball over this span, according to FanGraphs.

In the second half, the bullpen has been in the middle of the pack in terms of ERA (3.82, which ranked 16th coming into Sunday), but will be hoping the series against the A’s is a sign of things to come.

In those three games, the Mets bullpen allowed just two runs in 10 innings of work, both of which were charged to Erik Goeddel in the eighth inning Friday. Hansel Robles, Josh Edgin and Smoker all threw two scoreless frames in the series, and Jerry Blevins pitched 1 2⁄3 innings to record the save in Friday’s game.

Their work was especially integral to Saturday’s come-from-behind win, as Smoker, Edgin and Robles held Oakland at five runs when Zack Wheeler left after five innings.

For the season as a whole, the Mets relievers are 28th in ERA (4.89) and despite a solid strikeout rate (9.8 per nine innings), they have been plagued by walks and the long ball. The bullpen has allowed the second-most walks per nine innings (4.2) and the seventh-most home runs per nine (1.3).

Addison Reed failed to record an out and allowed an inherited runner to score Friday, but he has generally been the Mets’ best reliever this season, posting a 2.35 ERA, striking out 9.2 and walking 1.2 batters per nine over 46 innings. The performance has made him a trade target for teams in need of bullpen help.

The Mets may still be a team that could use bullpen help itself, but recent results have been encouraging.

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