Who said that lightning never strikes in the same place twice? That wasn’t the case this weekend in Milwaukee, where the New York Mets lost a pair of games in remarkably stunning and similar, fashion. The architect of this dispiriting case of deja vu gone wild, was none other than newly minted manager Mickey Callaway, who has opened himself up for some serious second-guessing over a myriad of missteps and questionable calls over the last few weeks.
After Sunday’s 8-7 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, Callaway said he had no regrets about his game-altering decisions that backfired massively and saw the Mets lose three of four games, sinking the team back to fourth place in the NL East behind the Nationals, Phillies, and the first-place Braves who they’ll be battling later today.
Callaway, angry at the line of questioning regarding his decision to pull Robert Gsellman and replace him with the struggling Jerry Blevins, felt perfectly okay even though it proved disastrous because the numbers were on his side.
“What’s happened in the small sample size this year weighs on you,” Callaway said of Blevins’ countless failures this season, “but you can’t really let that affect you when you are making decisions. If things don’t work out, you feel okay about it.”
While Mickey may feel okay about it, I can tell you who’s not okay about it… Me. In case you’ve been living under a rock the last three games, let me explain what exactly transpired.
In Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Brewers, Callaway removed Gsellman in the tenth with a runner on first and two outs with lefty hitter Christian Yelich due up. Blevins, who is suffering through his worst season with the Mets, came on in relief and quickly allowed a hit to Yelich which ultimately resulted in a stunning loss.
It was the sixth time this season that Blevins was called upon to get one left-handed batter out and failed to do so.
Two days later – on Sunday – almost the exact situation presented itself to Callaway. The Mets were leading by two in the seventh when Callaway, for the second time in as many days, pulled Gsellman for Blevins with a lefty due up and two on and two outs. The lefty happened to be red-hot slugger Travis Shaw who quickly stroked a line drive single to left to score Yelich, ultimately resulting in a 8-6 Brewers lead.
I have no problem with Callaway admitting that he’s a “numbers manager” but the problem is that Mickey completely discarded this season’s numbers, calling them a small sample size, and instead going with last season’s numbers when Blevins was one of the best lefty specialists in the game.
“The overall numbers [last season]suggest that Blevins has a much greater chance to get the hitter out.”
Left-handed hitters were batting .269 (7-for-26) off Blevins entering Sunday. While lefties were hitting just .174 (8-for-46) against Gsellman – a much larger sample size mind you.
“I always lean towards the numbers a little bit,” Callaway said. “The numbers were so drastically in favor of Blevins tonight I thought it was a solid decision to bring him in.”
You know, I could almost forgive the move on Friday… You cross your fingers and hope that the 2017 version of Blevins finally shows up.
But after getting scorched so badly and being dealt such a critical loss, how can you possibly make the same exact decision two days later and think that you’re going to get a different outcome? Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
And at what point does Callaway realize that Blevins has become as reliable as Hansel Robles is this season. Last week I suggested the possibility of not using Blevins in high leverage situations, at least until he can figure out what he’s doing wrong this season. It was a good idea then… Still is.
But Callaway is going to keep trotting Blevins out there, even to the detriment of Robert Gsellman who has become one of the most reliable arms in the pen and a bona fide lefty killer in his own right this year.
Callaway kept talking about accountability during the Spring and how he’s going to set his players up for success. Exactly when is all of that supposed to kick in?
I feel bad for Blevins, and Gsellman too for that matter. “It can get frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Gsellman said of the seventh inning. “We were going with the matchups I guess… and it didn’t go our way today.”
Blevins, who is always a straight shooter, is taking his downturn this season particularly hard. “I don’t think I’ve been this angry with baseball in a while,” he said after the game. “Mickey put me in a situation that’s tailor-made for me. It’s beyond frustrating, I didn’t do my job.”
Bravo to Blevins, because that’s what accountability looks like.
But as for Callaway, I’m very disappointed with his “I’m okay with everything because I went by the numbers” take of the situation. Where’s your accountability, Mick?
He went with the wrong numbers first of all. But what really scares me is that he’s learned nothing from the last 48 hours, absolutely nothing.
So don’t be surprised when Gsellman gets pulled and replaced by Blevins a third time in Atlanta this week, to face lefty slugger Freddie Freeman. And of course the result will be the same – another gut-wrenching loss. Because, you know… Mickey is a numbers guy.