New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway plans to use a closer-by-committee system to start the 2018 season.
The New York Mets have some talent at relief pitcher, despite not having an extremely deep bullpen. Jeurys Familia and A.J. Ramos each have closing experience. Additionally, Jerry Blevins has become one of the best lefty specialists in the majors and newly-signed right-hander Anthony Swarzak had a career-best 2.33 ERA last season.
This gives manager Mickey Callaway several options to choose from as his closer on any given day, and he plans to take advantage of that freedom. Thanks to a recent MLB.com interview via ESPN, he plans to use a closer-by-committee approach this season.
“I don’t think we’re going to name a closer to start the season,” Callaway told MLB.com. “If there are three left-handers coming up in a row, we can use Blevins. We want to make sure everyone is pitching when they have the best chance to be successful. I think we have four options to close games.”
This strategy makes sense, as it allows Callaway to play more to matchups without worrying about keeping his closer available. As the game moves towards more versatility, including players potentially pitching and taking the field like Shohei Ohtani, it makes sense that teams will move away from designated roles in the bullpen.
Managers are placing more value on getting outs in key situations earlier in games, rather than saving their best reliever for the ninth inning. Callaway, a former pitcher, is embracing that strategy.
Using their best relievers in a committee system will help mask the lack of depth that exists in the bullpen, as could potentially moving a starter to the bullpen, or even bringing back Bartolo Colon to compete for a relief spot. However, the most important of these will be avoiding locking their best relievers into roles that are on the way out of the game.