Mickey Callaway Managed The Ninth Inning Correctly
The New York Met did not lose last night’s game because of Mickey Callaway. They lost the game because the Mets bullpen could not hold a six run lead in the ninth inning. That’s not on the manager, and if you think it was, honestly, you are going to blame him for anything that goes wrong.
Sure, the Mets could have left Seth Lugo in the game and had a much smoother finish. However, by pulling Lugo, you save him to pitch today in what should have been an opportunity for a sweep. Again, this was a six run lead with the bottom of the Nationals linuep. If you can’t trust the rest of your bullpen to hold that lead, you’re not winning any games from here on out.
Callaway brought in Paul Sewald. Since he was called back up on August 20, he had allowed one earned run over 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts and one walk. In his last appearance against the Phillies, he came into the game with two outs and the tying run on second, and he would get J.T. Realmuto to pop out to end the inning. As it stands, Sewald has become the Mets most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.
Sewald just didn’t have it. With Anthony Rendon coming up and Juan Soto on deck, the Nationals had a run home with runners at the corners. At this point, it should be noted Brad Brach has allowed at least one run in three of his last six outings. Jeurys Familia had just blown the Phillies game, and he has not been good all year. At this point, it was very reasonable to give Sewald one more batter.
After Rendon’s RBI single, Callaway went and brought in Luis Avilan to face Soto. Entering last night’s game, left-handed batters were 2-for-38 off Avilan. Again, Avilan had allowed TWO HITS ALL YEAR to left-handed batters. TWO. He is exactly the guy you want in that situation to face Soto.
Again, he didn’t get the job done allowing a single to load the bases.
Now, the Nationals were going to pinch hit Ryan Zimmerman for Matt Adams with Avilan on the mound, and Kurt Suzuki was on deck. Before commenting this was a spot for Justin Wilson consider the splits Zimmerman and Suzuki had.
- vs. LHP
- Zimmerman .382/.417/.559
- Suzuki .349/.373/.587
- vs. RHP
- Zimmerman .195/.280/.356
- Suzuki .237/.308/.439
Look at those splits. You bring in the right-handed pitcher to face them. This was the exact situation you bring in Edwin Diaz, who just so happens to be the pitcher Brodie Van Wagenen traded Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract to acquire.
If you’ll remember, when Familia was blowing the game against the Phillies, people were screaming Callaway should have brought in Diaz. The narrative then was Diaz had figured out his slider after working with Jacob deGrom, and he was much better. After all, he had struck out six of the last eight batters he had faced. He also had a streak where he allowed runs in just one of his past eight appearances.
You could argue for Wilson. However, Zimmerman and Suzuki annihilate left-handed pitching. Absolutely, destroys them. Chances are if you are blaming Callaway for not using him, you’d blame him for his ignoring the splits if Zimmerman and Suzuki beat him. Diaz was hot, and it had been argued Diaz figured it out. Also, just like Sewald and Avilan, this was a spot Diaz has to succeed.
Zimmerman doubled. Suzuki walked it off. That’s seven runs in one-third of an inning.
To recount, Callaway made the right move lifting Lugo to have him available for today’s game. By doing that, he could get an inning from him instead of having to use one of the guys who can’t get the job done. He went to Sewald, who has been great lately. He then went to Avilan who had allowed two hits to left-handed batters all year. He then went to the guy the Mets mortgaged the farm and payroll flexibility to close out games. That same guy had been really good entering yesterday’s game.
Ultimately, the Mets lost this game because of the inexcusable performance of three relievers who had been very good of late. This wasn’t on Callaway. Not everything is. As for his postgame comments, who cares? They’re meaningless. What matters is how he handles that clubhouse. We’ll see that in today’s game.
Overall, Callaway made the right moves. Sure, you could argue for Wilson or to stick with Lugo, and if they do that, maybe they win last night. However, at some point, you have to go to relievers not named Wilson or Lugo, and they need to succeed. That’s the case all the more with Wilson and Lugo each having elbow issues.
If no one other than Wilson and Lugo can’t get the job done, blame the relievers who can’t hold a six run lead. Blame the General Manager who assembled this disaster of a bullpen. At some point, Callaway has to use these guys, and a six run lead in the ninth was the right spot. He’s not to blame for it.