A life of uncertainty is nearly second nature for a reliever in the major leagues.
After the Mets traded away Jeurys Familia, the team’s primary closer the past four seasons when healthy, to Oakland for a pair of prospects (third baseman Will Toffey and reliever Bobby Wahl) along with $1 million of international slot money Saturday, Mets manager Mickey Callaway said instead of naming a traditional closer, the team will operate on a committee, with factors such as matchups and rest.
The Mets relievers are used to facing unknowns, as the team started the season with a closer-by-committee style, and Familia led the bullpen with 17 saves before he was traded to Oakland.
“You have to be ready whenever the phone rings,” reliever Jerry Blevins said before the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Padres at Citi Field on Monday night. “And especially this year with how many guys we’ve had come in and out, how many different things we’ve pitched in and out of. We’ll be ready, I promise you that.”
Robert Gsellman, who has five saves and is tied for the team lead with six victories, closed the Mets’ 7-5 victory over the Yankees on Friday, tossing two innings, allowing two runs (none earned) for the save as Familia watched in the bullpen. Callaway said he was told in the middle of Friday’s game not to pitch Familia because of the possibility of a trade.
But with Familia in Oakland, Mets relievers will have more opportunities to prove themselves in high-pressure roles in what is otherwise largely a lost season for the team. Blevins and Tim Peterson said they haven’t been given any specific roles, but just know to always be ready to enter the game.
“We’ve kind of been like that all season in a way,” Blevins said. “Familia was our closer but Gsellman got a few, [Anthony] Swarzak has closed, I’ve had a couple . . . So it’s something that we’re used to.
“We’re all so used to guys coming in and out, that’s a part of our way of life being in the bullpen, so it’s nothing out of the norm.”
Peterson said: “I just kind of pitch whenever they give me the ball . . . I think everyone’s just got to be ready for any situation, pretty much.”
Along with Gsellman’s five saves, Swarzak and Jacob Rhame each have saves this season. Last year, five different Mets had saves, including Blevins with one.
The Mets entered Monday ranked 26th of 30 teams with a 4.74 bullpen ERA while ranking toward the middle (17th most) in innings pitched (344).
Said Peterson, “Everyone just has to be ready.”