Mickey Callaway plays his enemies like a game of chess.
In the ninth inning of Sunday’s contest with the Mets holding on to a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the 12th, Callaway theorized Matt Reynolds would come to bat to pinch hit. He turned to rookie flamethrower Jacob Rhame, who in fact, faced off against Reynolds.
This goes beyond just a gut feeling.
According to Tim Britton of The Athletic, when Reynolds is up against a pitcher who throws 95 mph or harder, he is just 2-for-24 in his career.
Sure enough, Rhame retired Reynolds for the first out of the 12th. He worked around a double to record his first ever big league save.
The right-hander said that his game plan was simple: he wasn’t going to beat around the bush and instead went right after guys.
“You can’t be walking guys that late in the game,” Rhame said. “So if they were going to beat me, I was going to make them beat me.”
Rhame made his first Opening Day roster after a strong camp that saw him walk just one batter in over 10 innings pitched. He has allowed one run over three innings so far this regular season.
His two strong appearances this weekend, have been a small indicator of how good the Mets bullpen has been in general early on this season.
Going into Sunday’s game, New York’s staff had posted a 2.14 ERA, the best mark in the majors. The team also had a 1.00 WHIP, the lowest mark in the majors and had held opponents to a .181 mark, the lowest in the majors.
Also going into their match up last night with Washington, New York’s pen had allowed one run in its last 17.0 innings (0.53 ERA) since April 1. Overall, the Mets pen had posted a 1.32 ERA (4 ER/27.1 IP) ranking second in the majors. Mets relievers also had struck out 36 in 27.1 innings, which is eighth in the majors.
On Sunday, the bullpen allowed just one run in seven innings pitched, including Rhame’s scoreless 12th.
The 25-year-old who came over in the August 2017 deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a pleasant surprise for New York so far, and games like Sunday will surely only boost his confidence.