This Website use Cookies OK

Read more Mets News

Mets bullpen requires creative usage with limited options


Managing the usage of an unpredictable bullpen is no walk in the park when the Mets’ best reliever is unavailable for a game. It’s even more complex when an All-Star closer, who’s having the worst year of his career, is not summoned for the ninth inning.

That was evident in the final two innings of the Mets’ 3-2 win against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway had to figure out how best to use the limited weapons in his taxed bullpen to secure six outs with a two-run lead after Zack Wheeler pitched seven excellent innings.

"There's no one way to do it,” Callaway said. “It's all hands on deck and we have to get the job done.”

With rosters expanded and just 18 regular season games to go, the Mets have 12 relief pitchers in their bullpen: Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan, Brad Brach, Tyler Bashlor, Paul Sewald, Drew Gagnon, Walker Lockett, Chris Mazza and Daniel Zamora. It’s not easy to pick names from that list for reliable, crucial outs.

With Lugo unavailable Tuesday, Brach was Callaway’s first choice out of the pen. He gave up a solo homer to cut the D-backs’ lead to 3-2. The home run took away a considerable amount of breathing room for the Mets, and Callaway had to make an executive decision. Go to Diaz, your part-time closer, and ignore his 14 home runs allowed and 5.77 ERA? Or pick someone more dependable?

Callaway chose Option B: Justin Wilson. But that judgement call did not come without deliberation for the Mets skipper. Even though Wilson carried an impressive 2.48 ERA into his outing, the left-hander didn’t have his best arsenal Tuesday. He took 15 pitches to get Adam Jones out to end the eighth, and he still had three more outs to secure.

"I thought Wilson was going to get it done,” Callaway said on sticking to his gut. “Some way, somehow. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he’s been awesome for us and I felt like he was going to get it done.”

Wilson gave up a leadoff single to start the ninth and Diaz started warming in the bullpen. The tying run reached third base on Kevin Cron’s single to left field. And still, Diaz never made it to the mound. Wilson earned his second save of the year thanks to a diving play on a ground ball by Pete Alonso and a strikeout to end the inning against ex-Met Wilmer Flores. In the end, Callaway said trusting Wilson over Diaz in that situation was “a very difficult decision.”

"I just had to,” Callaway said. “We all know the struggles that Diaz has had and Wilson has been really good. I felt like at that point, it was Wilson's maybe until it was tied, unless he just couldn't throw a strike to Wilmer or something. He willed it.

“I'm not saying we're going to run from Diaz, he's gonna get his chances too. But tonight, we called him down there in the eighth and asked Wilson if he could get four outs for us and he did.”

Wilson’s outing on Tuesday night was something the Mets have not seen from Diaz. Callaway said it’s possible both Wilson and Lugo could be unavailable after throwing a considerable amount of pitches in the past few days. In that scenario, the Mets should hope the other 10 relievers in their bullpen were taking notes from Wilson’s combative performance.

"Everybody in the bullpen is going to have to step up at some point,” Callaway said. “But I kind of feel like right now, we have to win that day. We’ll do anything to do that, and it showed.”