If you’re going to be on a sinking ship, you'd better learn how to swim a little farther.
That seemed to be the message Wednesday as Mickey Callaway walked back on some of his previous edicts – the most notable of which was that closer Edwin Diaz would pitch only three outs – in an effort to adapt to a landscape the Mets didn’t necessarily foresee in spring training.
That new landscape includes a shaky Jeurys Familia, who hasn’t been the setup man the Mets envisioned, along with a sub-.500 record that threatens to sink their season before the All-Star break.
Originally, Callaway said they would keep Diaz to three outs until they reached the playoffs, but that’s the thing about rules for the playoffs – you have to get there first.
“If we’re not going to be where we want to be at this point, how can we expect to [get] there and hold off on doing that with Diaz?” Callaway said. “We’ve gotta win some games. We’re going to approach this like the playoffs because we feel like we need to, and you might see Diaz for four outs moving forward.”
Callaway said the four outs weren’t a hard cap for Diaz, who has 11 saves and a 1.93 ERA in 20 appearances after being an All-Star last year for the Mariners. They would use him within reason, but Callaway said that if Diaz, for example, used 18 to 25 pitches to get four outs, he potentially still could be available the next day.
Callaway also said Diaz’s previous cap was predicated on the feeling that “OK, the eighth inning is going to be handled. And it hasn’t been handled.
"So, we have to adjust. I think the last two games, there could have been arguments that it would have been nice to be able to have Diaz come in and get an out in the eighth. It might’ve made it a little easier. I think we realized that things don’t always go to plan and you have to make adjustments along the way.”
Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have been discussing Familia’s struggles, which before Friday’s game amounted to a 6.50 ERA over 18 appearances. His walks per nine innings are way up – an average of 7.0, compared to 3.5 last year, and his strikeouts are down a bit. He already has allowed two home runs, compared to three all last season, and allowed more hard contact than ever before in his career – 35 percent of batted balls, according to FanGraphs.
That, in addition to Seth Lugo landing on the injured list with shoulder tendinitis, has given Callaway little choice. And the plan doesn’t only include Diaz, who Callaway said was always open to pitching more. Tyler Bashlor and Drew Gagnon also will get a crack at higher-leverage situations, Callaway said.
“Losing Lugo at this moment, not having him, also affects that decision, and where we are at and where we want to get to is probably the biggest reason,” he said. “We’re not where we want to be. We haven’t played the way we’re capable of playing. We need to adjust what we were thinking and what our plans were and be a better team.”