Mickey Callaway’s bold plan to shake up Mets bullpen

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Mickey Callaway is ready to usher out the era of the big-time closer.

In a different approach that isn’t so radical based on the manner in which bullpens have evolved in recent years, the new Mets manager outlined a plan Tuesday to remove the title “closer” from a designated pitcher and instead use his best relievers in the highest leverage situations.

It’s a strategy the Indians have employed, most notably in the postseason with relief stud Andrew Miller, who is often summoned to pitch before the ninth inning. Callaway spent the last five seasons as the Indians’ pitching coach under manager Terry Francona.

“We are going to pitch guys when it makes sense, and we are going to pitch guys to their strengths and they are going to face the batters they should be facing,” Callaway said at the winter meetings.

Callaway’s comments came in response to a question about Jeurys Familia’s role in the Mets bullpen, after a season in which the right-hander missed three-plus months recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot in his right shoulder.

“We are not going to have him locked into [the ninth inning],” Callaway said. “We have to make sure we get to a save situation, and if we can’t there doesn’t do any good to have this guy be named the closer, so we are going to pitch guys when it makes sense and do everything we can to win the game that night.”

AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins join Familia as the key components of the Mets bullpen as general manager Sandy Alderson searches the free-agent and trade market for another dependable option.

Alderson called Callaway’s plan to use his best relievers in the highest leverage situations an “interesting possibility,” but stopped short of declaring it a done deal.

“Right now it’s a working theory more than anything else,” Alderson said. “But it embraces some of the things we’ve talked about before, which is the evolving relationship between starting pitching and relief pitching and the evolving way that relief pitching is being used.”

Already, Alderson has outlined plans this offseason that would limit most of his starting pitchers to working through the opposing lineup twice. Such a plan will call for several reliable bullpen pieces.

If a big spot in the sixth or seventh inning were to arise, Callaway could conceivably summon a traditional back-end reliever such as Familia or Ramos.

And the numbers would present Callaway with his best option.

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“It definitely depends on expected OPS and OPS that we know has already happened,” Callaway said. “I am going to look at all that information. I am going to look at where does this pitcher’s fastball end up and is that the same spot this guy hits the ball real well. There’s probably 50 factors that goes into why you are bringing a guy in, and we are going to take all those into account.”

In an era when quality relievers are getting paid handsomely based on factors other than saves, Callaway said he doesn’t expect any brushback from his bullpen on the change in approach.

“I am not really concerned about titles,” Callaway said. “I don’t think the players, from talking to them, are really concerned about titles. These players want to win and want to pitch and have success, and that is what we are going to set them up to do.”

Callaway credited his time with Francona for teaching him such an approach can work.

“When you use [relievers] in that high leverage situation, that is the save,” Callaway said. “The save that night is the highest leverage situation.”

Source: https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/mickey-callaways-bold-plan-to-shake-up-mets-bullpen/

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