The Mets are riding high with a franchise-best 9-1 start to the season. One of the reasons why is everything is breaking right for the Mets. Adrian Gonzalez has been productive, and Asdrubal Cabrera is off to the best start of his career. Juan Lagares can finally hit enough to justify playing him every day, but he won’t because Michael Conforto is back and healthy. The biggest question mark, the bullpen, has been absolutely lights out. It’s also been overworked leading to the question MMO readers most wanted answered:
Dilip asks . . .
Can the Mets bullpen sustain this heavy workload?
Doubl asks . . .
Can the Mets sustain success with their starters not going deep into games?
John S. replies . . .
As noted in the 3 Up, 3 Down piece after the Washington series, Mickey Callaway has been riding his bullpen really hard. Some of that is the starting pitching not going deep into games. Some of that has been Callaway seemingly taking advantage of off days. Some of that has been Callaway identifying his best guys early on and trying to get them into high leverage opportunities.
Whatever the case may be, the Mets organization believed the bullpen had been stretched a little too thin. As a result, heading into yesterday’s game against the Marlins, the Mets temporarily called up Corey Oswalt to be available in the bullpen because they needed an extra arm.
Oswalt was demoted after the game to permit the Mets to call up Zack Wheeler to make tonight’s start.
Bouncing guys up and down like this can only be a temporary solution because the Mets cannot go with a short bench. Eventually, the starters are going to have to figure out a way to go deeper into games, and Callaway is going to have to find a way to better manage this bullpen.
Keep in mind, Callaway already burned through a bullpen that had an extra arm in it. Worse yet, two of those bullpen arms are converted starters who can go multiple innings. Part of the reason was that he initially barely used Jacob Rhame and because Paul Sewald has only made two appearances the entire season. Sewald’s second appearance was mostly because Callaway had no other choice.
Sooner rather than later, Callaway is going to have to trust more guys in the bullpen. It’s odd saying that too seeing how Callaway has come to trust Hansel Robles and put him in pressure situations, but it still remains true.
Callaway’s hands are tied with the starting pitching not going deep enough into games. Part of that is seeming to be his reliance on analytics to determine that he should not allow a pitcher to go through the order a third time. Part of that is the high pitch counts, ineffectiveness, and injury histories forcing these pitchers to get pulled from the game before the seventh or even sixth inning.
There is no easy answer here, but the Mets are going to have to figure something out and fast because even with all the right-handed relief prospects Sandy Alderson obtained at the trade deadline last year, the Mets simply do not have enough arms in the bullpen to keep up the current pace.