After rough 2011, bullpen off to stellar start

After rough 2011, bullpen off to stellar start

After rough 2011, bullpen off to stellar start
NEW YORK -- Here's how well the Mets' bullpen has pitched: over the first two games of the season, manager Terry Collins did not even consider calling upon Manny Acosta, arguably his best reliever last summer.

Though Acosta finally made his debut in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Braves, snapping the bullpen's scoreless streak in the process, Collins could not have been happier with his relievers throughout the first three games of the season.

Through two games, the Mets had compiled seven scoreless relief innings, one-third fewer than the league-leading Nationals. Only three other relief corps had emerged unscathed over that span. Even after Acosta served up a solo home run to Brian McCann in the eighth inning Sunday, New York's bullpen ranked amongst the league's best with a 0.90 ERA.

That represents quite a change for the Mets, who sat 28th in the Majors with a 4.33 bullpen ERA last season. It also represents quite a change for Collins, who has been working to establish defined roles for his relievers. Though Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch are clearly his preferred closer and setup man, respectively, Collins has yet to decide how best to deploy Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell and Acosta.

"Most relievers like to have consistent work if they can," Collins said. "I'm going to try to make sure we get some guys in early and then start to form some patterns."