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Terry Collins has ‘dead arm’ concerns about Mets bullpen

New York Mets manager Terry Collins, right, signs

New York Mets manager Terry Collins, right, signs autographs for fans before a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) Credit: AP / John Raoux

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Terry Collins has spent much of spring training downplaying fears.

Jacob deGrom’s fastball has sagged. His response? Big deal.

The Mets haven’t won a game since March 17, a streak that continued with Sunday’s 4-4 tie with the Nationals. Any worries? Not really.

“It’s about getting out of this camp healthy and getting the at-bats and getting everybody ready,” Collins said.

But when the talk turned to the bullpen, it was Collins himself who pulled the fire alarm, grousing about velocity readings that have been “way down” and wondering aloud if his relievers had entered the dreaded “dead arm” phase.

“It looks like the bullpen is going through a little dead arm,” Collins said. “I don’t quite see the quality of stuff that I saw a week ago. So that’s certainly something we’ve got to keep an eye on.”

Dead arm itself is basically a more frightening term for fatigue, remedied in most circumstances by some time off. But with the Mets just three days away from leaving Florida and six days away from starting the season, Collins has little time to hand out breathers.

“It’s bothered me just a little bit watching the last couple of games where stuff just isn’t as crisp as it needs to be,” he said.

With Grapefruit League play winding down, Collins said he’d prefer to use his relievers as he would during the regular season. That means pitching on consecutive days and seeing action in certain late-game matchup situations.

But what he’s seen thus far — sagging velocity, specifically — has left him “a little concerned” about the bullpen. According to Collins, he has seen a dip across the board, including among the team’s veterans.

“We’re seeing that velocity’s way down on a lot of guys,” Collins said after using Antonio Bastardo, Jim Henderson, Jerry Blevins and closer Jeurys Familia against the Nationals.

Of course, the worry from Collins could prove to be unwarranted. Consider Familia, the Mets’ lockdown relief ace, whose fastball went missing for all of spring training last year.

By Opening Day, Familia was throwing 97 mph in what proved to be the beginning of a breakout season. In establishing himself as one of baseball’s top closers, he equaled the franchise saves record with 43.

This exhibition season, that velocity has tailed off again. According to one rival scout, Familia’s fastball hovered at 90-92 mph on Sunday, his fourth straight outing in that range, though he touched 94 mph. It was a dip from the 94-95 he showed earlier in spring training.

Even with a day off on Saturday, Familia’s velocity appeared no different from what he showed on Friday, when the Cardinals tagged him for three runs and four hits.

But another evaluator noted that Familia’s fastball was in similar territory in spring training last year, only to rebound as soon as the games counted.

Collins said that after talking with Familia, he’s not concerned about any underlying health issue.

“The sink’s not there right now,” Collins said. “A week ago, he was unhittable. But the only thing I have to go on is that we’ve seen this in the past out of some guys. It reaches a part of camp where they just need to catch their breath a little bit.”

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