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New Mets reliever Gonzalez Germen enjoying early success

Gonzalez Germen delivers a pitch during a game

Gonzalez Germen delivers a pitch during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. (July 20, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Let's play Terry Collins: Your team leads by a run and the bases are loaded with two outs in the fifth inning -- the game on the line, really. You've just pulled your starter and your bullpen is coming off a seven-inning performance the night before. You give the ball to . . .

. . . The rookie you called up last week, naturally.

"He's coming right after you," Collins said of Gonzalez Germen, the 25-year-old who relieved a struggling Zack Wheeler and struck out Delmon Young on a 2-and-2 changeup. "In the fifth inning, you're thinking, we gotta get out of [this]. If they get back in the game there, we need some innings from some guys . . . [But] I'll tell you what, he's throwing over the plate . . . There's no reason we shouldn't be using him a little bit more.

"Of course, he's been here a week and we're using him three games, four games already."

But that's the nature of the game in the Mets' bullpen -- which entered Saturday's game eighth in the majors in innings pitched -- where baptism by fire is a lifestyle. Germen has given up one run and struck out six in 32/3 innings in four appearances, allowing one hit and three walks. He earned his first major-league victory Saturday after 12/3 innings of hitless ball, his longest outing since joining the Mets.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "I think my job in the game . . . [coming in] with the bases loaded and men on base, is a very important [part] of the game. Maybe [you] win, maybe lose."

Collins' trust in him is readily apparent, and Germen's recent success certainly is making a lasting impression on a manager who has no qualms about hinting that there might be a bigger role for him in the future.

Since being called up from Las Vegas and making his debut against the Pirates on July 12, Germen has been "very, very impressive," Collins said. "He's got a great arm, he's a young guy, and one of the things we talked about in spring training is that we needed some relief down the road. He might be the guy that steps up and grabs one of those jobs."

Though Collins previously said he was worried about burning out the bullpen after a taxing first half, the truth, he said, is that the Mets don't have the luxury of giving extended rest to any key cogs, "not if we have to use them."

All this just seems to point to more big-time spots for Germen, particularly because the Mets' most-used middle reliever, LaTroy Hawkins, is 40 years old and on pace for more innings than he's thrown in close to a decade. Only closer Bobby Parnell has more innings out of the bullpen for the team this season.

For now, it seems as if Germen has no problem with "big time," at least from Anthony Recker's view from behind the plate.

"He did awesome today," he said. "He got ahead of guys with that changeup, his bread-and-butter pitch . . . Bases loaded, getting that big strikeout. Yeah, it was big."

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