Who Should Pitch The Eighth?
With Jeurys Familia having surgery that will potentially end his season, the Mets will have to reconfigure their bullpen. Likely, this will start with Addison Reed become the closer. This creates an opening for someone to pitch the eighth inning.
Originally, that was supposed to be Fernando Salas. However, with him struggling much of this year pitching to a 5.51 ERA, he’s probably not the answer now. That goes double when you consider Terry Collins no longer lets him face left-handed pitching.
As a result, the Mets need to look elsewhere for someone to pitch the eighth. The Mets do have some interesting choices:
Blevins has been even better than his career best year last year. Overall, he’s been the Mets best reliever. Still, there are some reasons why he shouldn’t be e trusted with the eighth.
First, he’s allowed right-handed batters to hit .273/.429/.364. Second, if you stick him with one inning, you lose the ability to deploy him against a team’s top left-handed batter in a huge spot. Last, Blevins has been overworked, and he may begin to regress as a result.
If Blevins has been the Mets best reliever, Robles is not far behind. Through his 18 appearances, he’s 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9. He’s getting right-handed batters out, and he’s dominating left-handed batters. He’s all that you would want for the eighth inning.
Until he isn’t. To a man, everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop on Robles when he changes from a dominant reliever to a good one. Also, there’s tremendous value in his versatility. He can come in to get a big strikeout, or he can come in to pitch three innings. You never want to constrict someone like that to just one role.
Sewald has late inning experience with his being a minor league closer. Also, after a disastrous major league debut, Sewald has been good out of the Mets bullpen. In his last five appearances, he has pitched 8.1 innings allowing just seven hits, one earned, and two walks while striking out eight.
With all that said, it’s not really likely Collins gives this important job to a rookie. That has not been Terry Collins‘ modus operandi.
That probably also eliminates some interesting choices like Kevin McGowan who has been dominant in Las Vegas. With that being the case, it appears there is not one reliever Collins truly trusts over another to get those three big outs in the eighth. Ultimately, that may mean that until Sandy Alderson makes a move, we may see more of a focus on the hot hand or matchups late in the game.