Mets to use a closer-by-committee approach in 2018
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Mets are prepared to enter the 2018 season without a designated closer. According to comments made by manager Mickey Callaway, the club will utilize a committee featuring AJ Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins as they look to maximize their flexibility during games.
The change appears to be coming at a good time for the Mets. Their bullpen placed third-best among all major league teams in 2016 with a collective 3.53 ERA and 6.5 fWAR, but 2017 saw them plummet to the bottom of the leaderboard, where they ranked fifth-worst in the league after topping off a disappointing season with a cumulative 4.82 ERA and 1.2 fWAR. One of the clear culprits was right-hander Jeurys Familia, who ran up a 4.38 ERA, 5.5 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 in 24 2/3 innings. Familia incurred a 15-game suspension following domestic violence charges in 2016 and was sidelined another 15 weeks when an arterial clot was detected and surgically removed from his right shoulder.
The Mets have taken some steps toward improving their bullpen this offseason, most notably with a two-year, $14 million contract for free agent right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak is coming off of his most valuable season to date after completing successful back-to-back stints with the White Sox and Brewers last year, and should be able to help shift the Mets’ standing in a positive direction.
Aside from his four-man closer committee, Callaway told Morosi that he’ll alternate between a seven- and eight-man bullpen in 2018 and won’t hesitate to exercise his relievers’ minor league options in the event that the bullpen gets taxed during long games. At least five of the Mets’ relief pitchers still have options remaining this year.