The New York Mets are giving relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak a chance to close. Will it lead to a permanent closer role in 2019?
If you stopped watching the New York Mets in early July, you will be surprised to learn Anthony Swarzak has become the team’s unofficial closer. Mickey Callaway has gone to the veteran righty several times since the Jeurys Familia trade to pick up the save. The results have been surprisingly good.
Maybe this is a sign of bigger plans for Swarzak. Perhaps we see him actually take over the closer role in a more official form next season.
Other than Swarzak, the Mets don’t have any serious contender for the job in 2019. Robert Gsellman appears to have found his niche as a multi-inning setup man instead of a three-out pitcher. As one of the most experienced arms on the Mets, it’s only fitting they see what Swarzak can do in the final frame.
Swarzak’s numbers have steadily improved since his very bad delayed Mets debut. I won’t go into too many specifics, but I will say he’s fanning batters at a high rate and trending in the right direction. This has opened up the possibility of some redemption.
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Swarzak began the 2018 season on the disabled list. By the time he returned from the DL, the season was practically over.
He hasn’t pitched many meaningful games. Even the saves he does have are more about pride than vying for a championship. This team is going nowhere in 2018. However, continued success like this could help a player such as Swarzak go somewhere next year.
At the time of the signing, the front office didn’t intend to see Swarzak become their closer. The man had only two saves before this season, both taking place last year. The lack of experience shouldn’t stop them from at least letting him audition for the remainder of the year. At the very least, he pitches high-leverage innings and slots in better next year in a setup role.
Free agency will offer the Mets an abundance of options. The problem for them is they need more than Craig Kimbrel. This organization needs to find a way to score runs. They also need a relief corps that can protect a Jacob deGrom lead.
Swarzak will be with the team next year. His exact role is still unclear.
A recent return to the disabled list may hurt his chances to prove he has ninth-inning stuff. However, when he returns, it’s worth putting him back in as closer.
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For the final few weeks, let’s give him a shot to pitch the ninth inning. What harm can it do?