Zack Wheeler was spectacular again for the New York Mets last night. He hurled seven shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates and retired 10 batters in a row at one point. Unfortunately for the 21st time this season the Mets bullpen took another loss, 5-3. The game once again showed the questionable decisions Mickey Callaway makes.
The downfall started with Robert Gsellman allowing Starling Marte to leadoff the eighth with a double then steal third. Marte was driven in on a sac fly then Gsellman allowed another hit to Josh Bell. Callaway had a quick hook and pulled him after three batters. He has struggled in his last 9.2 innings allowing 10 earned runs. Gsellman has lost the hard sink on his fastball and has been overworked because of the lack of good pitchers in the bullpen.
Give the Man a Break
Jeurys Familia was called upon to get the save in the ninth, a day after throwing 28 pitches. Familia proceeded to allow three straight base runners with two strikes and did not record an out in the rough outing. He had the same problem as Gsellman, his pitches did not have the same bite and looked overworked. Familia has struggled to get back in a groove since his return from the disabled list.
Anthony Swarzak was brought in to clean up Familia’s mess but ended up with a blown save. Swarzak had less than two minutes to warm up and when Callaway was asked about it he let out a sarcastic response. “So how it works in baseball in the ninth inning, or in any inning, is you get a guy going and they call down when they are ready…so they are ready when they go in.” Callaway showed some fire there, but if he put the same amount of thought into his in-game strategy as he did for his postgame remarks, this team would not be 14 games under .500.
Ride the Hot Hand
Tim Peterson was the only reliever who pitched well last night. He retired both of his batters to end the eighth inning in nine pitches. Callaway, in plain terms, said he was not ready to the “high leverage” moment in the ninth. There was not too much pressure on Peterson if he were to pitch the ninth. The Pirates were dead, the Mets are already way back in the standings and there was about 10,000 people left in the ballpark.
Callaway needs to throw the “reliever roles” out the window in that spot. Familia threw a lot of pitches the night before and the Mets simply do not have a dominant reliever they can trust right now. There is nothing to lose with keeping Peterson out there and if he struggled then you move on to the next guy. A bullpen can revolve around the same two or three guys. We still do not know what some of these new relievers can do in big spots and that was a great time to find out what you have.