Mickey Callaway explains risks of closer-by-committee approach
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Jeurys Familia is the Mets’ closer for now. Just not the only closer.
Manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland clarified their plans to have a closer by committee, and Eiland said that although they will make decisions based on the situation, it’s still likely that Familia will be their guy in the ninth.
“Things can change,” Eiland said Wednesday, “but he’ll probably get the majority of the saves. But if we need to use him to get the last out of the seventh and pitch the eighth to get to the ninth, that’s what we’ll do.”
It seems that Familia, Anthony Swarzak, Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos all will get their chances, but Callaway conceded that this sort of setup does require particular care by the coaches. Mentally preparing the pitchers, Callaway said, was key, along with not getting them to warm up needlessly, tiring their arms without ever facing hitters.
“If I haven’t thought it out the right way, that can definitely be a risk,” Callaway said. “We’re going to be very diligent about that. That is something that I feel very strongly about and that’s a lot of wear and tear that’s needless, and if I haven’t prepared the right way, that will happen. I have to make sure in communication with Dave Eiland on a daily basis where I know, this part of the lineup we need to have this guy ready. We have to make a decision with good timing so the game doesn’t speed up on us and I start to get someone ready too early.”
Callaway praises Rosario
As the Indians’ pitching coach, Callaway watched his pitchers getting bailed out by one of the best shortstops in the game. Callaway said the Mets’ pitchers potentially could have the same sort of talent on their side.
Shortstop Amed Rosario is an “unbelievable athlete,” he said, “right on par with [Francisco] Lindor — an extreme athlete who can move around really well, go left, go right, good arm. He has all the tools.
“Sometimes, they’re going to make little mistakes along the way, but he’s always going to improve. We saw that with Lindor and that’s just something that happens when you have a super talented guy. The funny thing about those guys is they get the balls that nobody else gets to and sometimes they don’t make that play that they get to, and people are like, he didn’t make a good throw.”
Callaway said it’s too early to tell who will win the spot in centerfield with Michael Conforto expected to be on the disabled list for the season’s first month. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo are in the running, though it previously appeared that Lagares was the front-runner . . . Pitchers will begin to face live minor-league batters in two days or so, Callaway said, and Eiland said all are healthy. “No red flags,” Eiland said.