Buck Needlessly Compromised Bullpen For Game 3
One of the reasons the New York Mets lost the 2015 World Series was Terry Collins bullpen usage. Ironically, Collins lost the Mets the World Series chasing a win.
In Game 3, the only game in the series the Mets would win, Collins used Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia . . . to protect a six run lead. SIX. RUN. LEAD.
Collins would later admit using Familia in Game 3 impacted his decision making in Game 4. Instead of Familia for six outs, Clippard started the eighth with the Mets up 3-2.
That proved the turning point in the series. After two one out walks, Familia entered, and that’s when Daniel Murphy booted the ball leading to the Mets loss.
The Mets losing Game 4 had its roots with Collins needlessly using his best relievers in Game 3. The Mets lost because they did way too much to try to win.
That may be exactly what Buck Showalter just did in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series.
In the seventh inning of Game 2, Showalter brought in Edwin Díaz to help preserve the Mets 3-2 lead. You could understand the decision with the San Diego Padres about to turn over their batting order again.
Getting Díaz through the Padres best hitters, regardless of the inning, was an inspired decision. Use your best reliever against their best hitters. The Mets had to win the game, and that was the best way to do it.
What the problem with what Showalter did was executing the plan and showing an inability to be adaptable to the game situation.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets offense finally exploded. They’d put four runs on the board to increase the Mets lead to 7-2.
During the inning, Díaz had not pitched in over 40 minutes. Despite that, Showalter showed no adaptability to the situation, and he never got another reliever warming.
Edwin Diaz is returning for the top of the eighth, which surprises me greatly.— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) October 9, 2022
He's going more than 40 minutes between pitches.
This game is currently a blowout.
Mets 7, Padres 2, top 8
Admittedly, there’s was way too much hand-wringing over the time. Díaz historically warms quickly and does not like to overdo it with the warm-ups. In many ways, he’s uniquely suited to this situation.
The time gap wasn’t the issue. It was going back to Díaz with a FIVE RUN LEAD IN THE EIGHTH INNING.
By losing Game 1, the Mets put themselves in a bad spot. They had to do everything to win Game 2. Realistically speaking, they won Game 2 by going up five heading into the eighth.
You could almost excuse Showalter for using Díaz to start the eighth. By getting through the rest of the heart of the order, you stop the Padres before they can start.
However, it’s a five run lead. Díaz threw an additional nine pitches. The hope is it won’t impact his availability to get six outs in Game 3.
While his use of Díaz was questionable, his use of Adam Ottavino was short-sighted and potentially very costly. Again, the initial idea was arguably defensible, but the totality of the decision making was deeply flawed.
Díaz left with a runner on. Ottavino came in and got the last out to end the inning. At that point, he had thrown five pitches and would’ve been fully available for Game 3.
The Mets had a number of bullpen arms they could’ve turned to in the ninth. Each one of them would’ve been able to hold a five run lead. Instead, Showalter stuck with Ottavino.
Relievers getting up and down like that is always a risky proposition. With respect to Ottavino, he didn’t have it in the ninth.
He would plunk a batter and walk three forcing home a run. In the process, he threw 30 pitches raising his pitch count to 35.
This means Showalter took a fully rested Díaz and compromised how much he might be able to pitch in Game 3. He then took a fully rested Ottavino, and he made him effectively unavailable for Game 3.
As bad as that was, Showalter made it worse because at that point he had no other choice.
After Ottavino walked in a run, Josh Bell came to the plate as the tying run. At that point, Díaz is out of the game, and Ottavino had to leave the game.
Showalter had little other choice than to use Seth Lugo. That is because Showalter’s decision making helped put the Mets in a position where they had to pull out all the stops.
Lugo got the job done. He only needed four pitches to earn his first career postseason save.
Using Lugo there was very problematic, and it may very well make him unavailable for Game 3.
By now, every Mets fan knows Lugo has a torn UCL. He’s opted not to have it surgically repaired, and based on his pitching, he made the right move.
However, it came with some compromises. For years, the Mets would not use him on back-to-back days. On the rare times this happens, Lugo typically struggles with a .788 OPS against and a 4.16 ERA.
He extremely rarely pitches three games in a row. If he were to appear in Game 3, that is exactly what would happen.
Some may say this is making too big of a deal out of the appearance. After all, he only threw four pitches. That position is severely misplaced.
Remember, Lugo got up to warm up multiple times in the game. When Jacob deGrom was struggling in the fifth, Lugo was warming to enter.
This means Lugo warmed twice in the game. He might’ve only thrown four pitches in the game, but he threw 17 over two days. In his career, he very rarely pitches on consecutive days, and no one will consider using him three straight.
As a result, he is probably out of the Game 3 mid. Even if he’s not, he probably should be. That’s an astonishing development.
After the Mets four run rally in the seventh, they were on their way to an easy win with a fully rested bullpen for Game 3.
Somehow, Showalter turned that possibly preventing Díaz from getting six outs (or impacting his effectiveness in doing so), not having Ottavino, and based on five plus years of history, having Lugo unavailable.
Having that happen is a complete and utter failure by Showalter. The only hope is this will not matter or cost the Mets from protecting a Game 3 lead. If it does, Showalter and Showalter alone will be to blame.