Callaway Needs To Manage to Game Not Save Situation

Last night, the game hung in the balance with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Even after Jeff McNeil had bailed out Jeurys Familia with a fine play to start a 5-4-3 double play, Familia walked the subsequent two batters to load the bases. With the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up, Mickey Callaway needed to get Familia out of the game.

This past offseason, the Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. In the deal, the Mets paid a hefty price including not just Justin Dunn, but also Jarred Kelenic. At the introductory press conference for the two new Mets stars, Jeff Wilpon admitted the Mets parted with Kelenic partially to make sure Diaz did not go to the Phillies.

This was the precise moment the Mets needed Diaz. They needed a pitcher whom they touted as the best reliever in baseball to do what the best reliever in baseball does. He needed to go out there and strike out Jean Segura and ensure the Mets took the lead into the ninth. That’s not what happened.

Instead, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever. In terms of pinch hitting, this is equivalent to Callaway sending up Juan Lagares to face a tough right-handed reliever with bases loaded and two outs in the eighth just so he could save Dominic Smith for a pinch hitting opportunity in the ninth inning.

In terms of pinch hitting, you are not sending one of your worst options at the plate with the game on the line, but for some reason, Callaway opted to send one of his worst relievers out there with the game on the line.

After the game, Callaway would rightfully point out Gsellman has a job to do, and he needs to get out of that jam. However, this is a bit misleading. While it is Gsellman’s job to get out of that jam, it is also incumbent on the manager to put the right people in the right situations. Using the earlier example, if Lagares strikes out while Smith is on the bench people would be far less understanding.

Now, we did learn after the game the Mets do not want Diaz pitching more than three outs during the regular season. Putting aside whey the team would sacrifice two former first round picks for a one inning reliever, we still have to question the strategy.

Already, there have been two instances where Diaz came on to get just one out. So clearly, the Mets are not going to shy away from Diaz entering the game to get a huge out. What is bizarre is the Mets were not trusting their best reliever to go get that out.

If Gsellman allows a hit to Segura or Harper, it’s game over. Diaz never sees the game, and the Mets lose. Why is this a more acceptable result than having Diaz get one out?  That was potentially the game right there, and the Mets didn’t have the guy they gave up so much to acquire go get that out.

If the Mets didn’t want Diaz going four outs, then have hit get that out. Callaway then had the option to give the ball to Gsellman or Justin Wilson for the ninth. Both relievers have closed games in their careers. We have also seen Callaway give the ball to Jacob Rhame for a save.

Overall, Callaway does not have to manage to the save statistic, he has to manage to the game situation. When he was managing to the statistic, the Mets almost blew a game against the Phillies. The Mets almost didn’t get a chance to use the pitcher they were so afraid the Phillies were going to get. Ultimately, that is completely unacceptable.



8 thoughts on “Callaway Needs To Manage to Game Not Save Situation”

  1. Luis Venitucci says:

    Multiple issues with the bullpen management last night. 1-Wilson had been throwing, why was he not used to get Herrera in the 8th, or Knapp later in the inning? 2-The Diaz issue has been discussed, but here is an additional point-If they expect him to be a multiple inning reliever in the playoffs(Cart and horse?), why not prepare him for that scenario? One of the reasons that Harvey falters in game 5, was he had never been in that position, and they NOW expect him to finish a game in the WS? 3-Avilan needs to buy Segura lunch for swinging at a ball that was in Connecticut. 4-Why not let Lugo go 3 innings? A less curious issue, but one that might need to be considered..

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. I think it was a case of mistaken identity with Wilson. From what I recall, they corrected it later to say he wasn’t warming.

      2. Completely agree with you. Mets can’t have him going multiple innings for the first time in the postseason.

      3. Segura REALLY bailed the Mets out.

      4. I’m fine with Lugo just going two. It’s a marathon, and he’s arguably the team’s best reliever. Don’t burn him out in April.

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    We were told when Diaz was acquired what the plan was – to use him one inning per game – i.e., the 9th. What happened yesterday should not be surprise and I agree with that decision then and now.

    He’s a young kid with a golden arm who should be given time to adapt to the pressures and expectations of New York not overuse tampering with our lights out weapon. We want teams in dire fear of his prowess and invincibility sowing that reputation in NL.

    Later in the season, at key points in August and September he can be used for 4 outs from time to time to win key games and in prep for what we hope will be deep postseason run.

    The Mets have to wisely frame his one inning usage as they did factually, but carefully yesterday as collaborative decision so people don’t turn on Diaz as if it’s he’s prima donna who wants or is given special treatment while his teammates toil multiple innings under duress. He’s just so much better than his teammates and we should carefully nurture that dominance. If the rest of the pen other than Lugo had his skill, talent and fearlessness, they wouldn’t need to be bailed out. The onus is on them to improve, and on the Mets to acquire/develop more reliable relievers and replace Vargas.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      There are continental plates between having a well rested closer get four outs against a division rival and abusing an arm.

      Ultimately, if you want Diaz to eventually be able to do this, this was the exact situation where you do it.

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Furthermore, the Mets can’t publicly say he’s so much better than his teammates and they want to protect that dominance.

    Public comments like that would denigrate his teammates, sow intense media backlash and long term resentment. We need harmony to win, not distraction and bitterness.. Sometimes you have to walk a fine line and the Mets did last night however imperfectly dealing with the Diaz issue.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Mets botched handling the eighth last night, and it almost cost them the game.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Need more reliable relievers leading up to Diaz.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          What’s interesting is they do with Lugo and Wilson.

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