It feels like the Mets bullpen has been blowing games like clockwork. On Friday night, it happened for New York yet again.
Starter Zack Wheeler gave the team six strong, scoreless innings, and went back out for the seventh. He allowed a pair of hits, and manager Mickey Callaway decided to pull the plug and put in righty Paul Sewald to get him out of the jam.
If this was April, it would have been a shrewd move. That month, Sewald registered a 1.98 ERA in seven appearances (13.2 innings) with a 0.805 WHIP.
However, since then, it’s been all downhill. In the month of May, the 28-year-old had a 5.29 ERA in 11 games, allowing 11 runs and 19 hits over 17 frames.
This carried over into last night, where he allowed his two inherited runs to score in the seventh plus one of his own, and then allowed a three-run jack to Kyle Schwarber in the eighth to give the Cubs momentum, the lead and ultimately the game.
“I think some of the guys are feeling that pressure,” Callaway said. “I’m sure when Paul Sewald came in he felt like, ‘I can’t blow it.’ That’s why it’s so important to play the game right.”
Sure, Callaway cut Sewald some slack, and maybe it’s not all Sewald’s fault.
They were also a reliever short on Friday, as the team decided to designate for assignment Scott Copeland, who threw 1.1 scoreless innings on Friday in favor of weak hitting catcher Jose Lobaton to give the Mets three backstops.
But really, the bullpen woes can be traced back to the offseason.
General manager Sandy Alderson inked right-hander Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal, which was a good move, but he has been out since March with an oblique injury.
He should return soon, but it was the only reliever the Mets brought in this winter.
When all has been said and done, however, Familia has been the only one who has been solid. Ramos is on the disabled list now with a shoulder issue after blowing up twice in Milwaukee last week.
Blevins has looked like a shell of himself, and forget being a force at the end of the bullpen, he can’t even get lefties out situationally right now.
The Mets are lucky that Robert Gsellman and Lugo have stepped up to give them two very strong arms in the bullpen, but the rest of the relief corps are a mess.
Hindsight is 20/20, but in a time where pitching, and more specifically relief pitching, is at an all-time premium, Alderson and the Mets should have invested more into one of their weak spots instead of just bringing in one reliever and calling it a day. Callaway hasn’t been the best with his bullpen usage by any means, but this is the team that was constructed for him.
It’s not just like all this is a minor problem. In Milwaukee last weekend, New York dropped three of four to the Brew Crew when they should have taken at least three of the four games.
In Atlanta the last series, the Mets were lucky to come away with a four game split. Realistically, they should have taken all four.
Instead of being right up there fighting for first place, the Mets are now six games out and fading fast.
New York needs bullpen help and quick, because the season is no longer young, and if they blow a couple more games in the late frames like this, they can all but kiss their postseason chances goodbye.