ATLANTA — A career reliever and minor-league closer, Paul Sewald has been trying out a new role for the Mets: de facto long man.
Sewald has thrown more than 40 pitches in three outings (out of his four), matching his total from 2017. Two of those appearances, including Wednesday’s, when he held down the Nationals long enough for the Mets to rally, have lasted three innings. He went that long only three times last year.
“The thing that has impressed us the most is you know exactly what you’re going to get. He’s going to go out there, throw strikes, get ahead,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s getting the job done, so it’s been really impressive to see him attack hitters the way he has.”
Sewald isn’t the designated long man — he said Callaway hasn’t straight up told him that — but the way the opening weeks have developed, it has turned out that way. And it seems to be working out. Sewald has allowed two runs in 8 1⁄3 innings (2.16 ERA) and has a 0.60 WHIP.
“I’m not really worried about how long I am going to go,” he said. “It might be one batter, it might be 10. I’m just giving it everything I have and trying to get the first guy. I’ll worry about the second guy when I get to the second guy.”
About a week into the Jose Lobaton-Tomas Nido era, Callaway said the pitchers and catchers “haven’t missed a beat” but hinted the Mets are keeping their options open. “We’re going to lean on [Lobaton] a little bit to play more than he has in the past,” he said.
Jay Bruce (0-for-3) is 1-for-22 since April 10, dropping his average to .190. Jose Reyes hit into a double play to end the game. He is 0-for-19 this season.