The New York Mets are 10-1 for the first time in franchise history. A large part of their early success has been their outstanding bullpen and timely clutch hitting. The team ranks No. 1 with an outstanding 2.47 earned run average. The Mets also have an MLB-best six come-from-behind wins.
Another reason for the Mets early success is their new manager Mickey Callaway. The way he navigates the bullpen and puts particular pitchers in certain innings has worked out so far for this rookie skipper.
In the 12-inning nail-biter 6-5 win against the Washington Nationals, Callaway chose to bring in Jacob Rhame instead of Jeurys Familia, who pitched 1.2 innings the previous day. If this was 2017 and we still had Terry Collins as the Mets manager, who knows? Maybe he brings in Familia and all hell breaks lose?
Callaway’s management of the bullpen has been an outstanding magic trick. For instance earlier in that extra inning win, having Seth Lugo intentionally walk Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner with Bryce Harper at third with one out. Callaway knew there was no way with the speed of Turner that the Mets were turning a double play.
Lugo then proceeded to strike out Michael Taylor and Pedro Severino to send the game to extra innings. Again, let’s say this was 2017, who knows if the old skipper would intentionally walk two batters to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth and trust his relief pitcher to get the next two guys out.
While Mickey has made quite the impression in the first 11 games of this season, one thing I’ve noticed is that he is not over-managing. Familia spoke highly of his new manager with the New York Times. “He’s been doing great work, you can see the difference. He uses the guys, knows what he’s doing and he’s working. So far we’re all doing good in the bullpen.”
Even the new Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland has noticed early how Mets pitchers are approaching their opponents. “They’re attacking. They’re all-in and ready to pitch from the third inning on or whatever,” Eiland told the Times. “We’re not hemmed into this guy pitches this inning, this guy pitches this inning. They’re going out and doing what they are capable of doing.”
Besides the bullpen’s early success, timely situational hitting has made this team enjoyable to watch again. With the combination of veteran leaders such as Todd Frazier, Adrian Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jay Bruce and the young athleticism from Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario, the Mets have found themselves in “never say quit” mode on the baseball diamond.
After the Mets got no-hit through six innings last night, Todd Frazier woke up the Mets bats in the seventh with a single. The next inning they got rolling when Kevin Plawecki was hit in the hand by a 98 mph fastball, followed by Michael Conforto‘s pinch-hit double. With lefty Chris O’Grady on the mound, In my head I was thinking, “lefty righty matchup, we got to bring in Reyes now.”
Last season, Collins tried to get that better match-up for the hitter. What does Callaway do? He does the total opposite and brings in hot hitting veteran Adrian Gonzalez with runners on second and third to be the hero. A lefty-lefty match-up, what is he crazy? He’s actually a genius or maybe just lucky because Gonzalez ended up driving in both base runners with a two-RBI single.
Callaway is one of only four managers to start their tenure 9-1 in their first 10 games and so far it seems his Mets can do no wrong. I strongly believe that the Mets success has to do with the new manager’s charisma and the energy that he is bringing to this team. Lets put it this way: If Collins was the manager in 2018, do you think the Mets would be 10-1 to start the season?
I’m sure there will be stretches of bad baseball, it happens to every team, even the ones contending for a playoff spot. This team early on has showed resilience and quiet confidence that will help them later on in the heat of a pennant race. Many folks are saying, “Relax Mets fans, it’s only April stop acting like you won the World Series.”
I get where their saltiness is coming from, but I say to Mets fans, continue being proud of your team’s historical start to the season. It’s going to be a fun year for sure and Mickey Callaway is a big part of it.
You can’t win the division in April, but you can sure lose it.