With the New York Mets having one of the best bullpens in baseball, one of their surprising arms from last year, Paul Sewald, has been seldom used, but he is still making an impact.
Since Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have become solid relievers for the New York Mets, that leaves the long man role up to somebody entirely new in 2018. This pitcher doesn’t get much local attention, but he was one of the big surprises of last season and has done a good job in his role so far. That pitcher? Paul Sewald.
Sewald has pitched in four games this season, which is tied for the fewest games pitched by any Mets reliever who has appeared in more than one game. Jacob Rhame has also pitched in four games, but he is currently out at Triple-A Las Vegas. Out of those four games, he has thrown more than 40 pitches three times. That equals the total that he had all last season.
While Sewald hasn’t seen much game action, he has found a way to make a big impact and save the other key relievers for another day. He has a 2.16 ERA and has struck out 12 batters with only one walk. In fact, he has five strikeouts in each of his last two outings and made some team history, courtesy of Jacob Resnick of Mets Minors:
#Mets relievers with 3 IP, 5 K in consecutive outings:
Paul Sewald – 2018
Hisanori Takahashi – 2010
Ray Sadecki – 1973
Tug McGraw – 1972, 1971, 1970
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) April 19, 2018
Mickey Callaway has been a big believer in the bullpen early on and that can play into Sewald’s advantage down the road. With Matt Harvey and Steven Matz not consistently going deep into games, Sewald has the ability to keep the Mets within striking distance, like he did Wednesday night in their 11-5 win over the Washington Nationals.
Now, Sewald did have a 4.55 ERA last season, which is high for a reliever. With that being said, take a look at some of his other numbers. In the second half of last year, teams hit .194 against him in 30 innings of work. Plus, right-handed batters hit a mere .204 for the entire season against the 27-year-old right-hander.
The key for Sewald is that he gets swings and misses on his fastball. If you go back to the second half of last season, teams hit .181 against the heater and he got 18 of his 28 strikeouts with that pitch (courtesy of Brooks Baseball). This is all with a fastball that averages around 90-91 MPH in velocity (FanGraphs).
It is going to be tough for Sewald to get those late-inning situations this year barring injury since Lugo and Gsellman have excelled and you would think Anthony Swarzak is eventually going to come back from the oblique injury that has kept him sidelined him since April 1.
On most teams, the long man can tend to be forgotten because they are usually coming in when the game is out of reach. However, Sewald has value to the 2018 Mets because he can be the bridge reliever to the late innings should Harvey, Matz, or Zack Wheeler struggle on a particular night.
It will be tough for Callaway to get Sewald into more games, but it has definitely been a surprise this season that he has only pitched four times in the team’s first 18 games. His performance so far has proven he deserves this shot.