There’s a growing trend coming out of the Mets’ bullpen — one you don’t often see anymore in the majors.
Ever since Friday night’s fiasco when Mets manager Mickey Callaway was told mid-game not to pitch Jeurys Familia due to an impending trade to Oakland — which was completed the following day — the Mets’ last three victories came with the game’s final pitcher throwing two innings, two of the contests resulting in saves.
“I think we have to get creative,” Callaway said after the Mets’ 6-4 victory over the Padres at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon. “I think we can use guys in high-leverage situations to try to snuff things out when we need to. We’ve got guys that can go about multiple innings if we need to. It’s going to be about rest.”
And on Wednesday, Anthony Swarzak was called upon for a six-out save, in which he struck out three surrendering one hit in two shutout innings, for his second save of the season. Seth Lugo tossed the final two innings in the team’s 6-3 victory over the Padres Tuesday and Robert Gsellman recorded a six-out save Friday in a 7-5 win over the Yankees.
“I think it kind of happens out of necessity a lot of times,” Swarzak said. “Some guys can throw multiple innings, some guys can’t — and those guys that can’t are going to have to sometimes — so it’s one of those situations where you want to just be ready for anything.”
The Mets are a rarity as they have multiple recently-converted starters in their bullpen. Lugo, who had 18 starts compared to just one relief appearances last season, has pitched out of the bullpen in 28 of his 33 appearances this year. Gsellman, who started in 22 of his 25 appearances last season, has strictly been used as a reliever this year in 46 games.
Even Swarzak, who started 23 games over his first two major-league seasons with the Twins coming in 2009 and 2011, still believes he has some of the aspects of a starting pitcher, which helps him pitch multiple inning when needed in the middle or at the end of a game.
“With my history of being a starter early-on in my career, it’s always nice to get multiple innings in to try to feel out what you’re doing,” he said. “And I was fortunate enough to be in a situation (Wednesday) where I could throw multiple innings.”
And even though Swarzak said there were always innings for the relievers to prove themselves throughout the season, those opportunities should be more plentiful after the Mets traded Familia and his team-leading 17 saves to Oakland.
“There were big innings to pitch even when Familia was a part of the team,” said Swarzak. “But let’s be honest, there’s nothing but opportunity in this organization right now.”