Callaway May Be Overworking The Mets Bullpen
After an epic eighth inning bullpen meltdown against the Washington Nationals, the fans and media began the process of second guessing Mets manager Mickey Callaway. With that the central question was why Callaway went to Seth Lugo instead of allowing Jacob deGrom to face Howie Kendrick, who deGrom has completely dominated both that night and over the course of his career.
As we know, Lugo did the inexcuable and walked Kendrick on four pitches. This led to Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos, and Jeurys Familia not getting the job done. With the exception of Blevins, there were ensuing questions about how each reliever was used in that inning.
These questions are interesting for debate, but they are missing the larger issue here. In his brief managerial career, Callaway has ridden the bullpen too hard for this team to have sustained success over the course of a 162 game schedule.
There are a number of caveats many people will cite. There have been a number of off days. The Mets pitchers aren’t going deep enough into games thereby forcing Callaway’s hand. The bullpen can’t possibly be overworked because they have pitched just the 17th more innings in the majors.
Here are some other key stats to consider. There are 15 pitchers in baseball who have made double digit appearances this season. The Mets have three of those pitchers with Familia, Ramos, and Blevins. By the way, they were also the three pitchers who failed to get the job done that fateful eighth inning.
By the way, the Mets are the only team to have three relievers make double digit appearances, and that number will grow to four when Robert Gsellman, who has scuffled a bit of late, makes his next appearance.
We tend to over-focus just on the number of appearances, innings, and pitches relievers throw. Them getting up to warm up also counts. It is part of the fatigue which can set in for a reliever.
At this point, we can not be definitively sure any of the Mets relievers are gassed even with the recent drop-off. Really, that can be explained by regression to the mean or just a fluke small sample size.
Here’s what we do know. For most of this season, Callaway has had a bullpen with an extra arm in it. Despite that, the Mets have had to make roster moves on two separate occasions to get a fresh arm into the bullpen. First, it was Corey Oswalt for a day. Now, it’s Gerson Bautista for who knows how long?
The answer to that one may just be up until he gets gassed and the Mets need to go back to the minors to pull up Hansel Robles or Jacob Rhame again. Maybe this time, it’s Tyler Bashlor who comes up to the majors straight from Double-A.
Point is, the way Callaway is using this bullpen is having an effect, and it is causing the Mets to need to dip into their minor league depth to get fresh arms into this bullpen. Maybe this was the plan all along, and that plan is buttressed by Sandy Alderson’s moves at the trade deadline last year. Probably not.
Whatever the case, the Mets are going to have to figure something out because this cannot continue for 162 games.