Buck Showalter needs to start using his relievers differently
Buck Showalter has been everything New York Mets fans could've possibly wanted. He helped lead the team to a 101-61 record last season and won the NL Manager of the Year award. I love Showalter the leader and love how prepared he is for every game. There is, however, one thing which has bothered me since he took over.
NY Mets manager Buck Showalter needs to manage the bullpen differently
Showalter's bullpen management when the Mets are tied or in front has been mostly fine. The Mets had relievers in defined roles last season, and Showalter stuck with them for the most part. My issues with his bullpen management are in games the Mets are trailing by a run late.
Last season I wrote about Buck's lack of urgency in September when it came to his bullpen management. He'd constantly refuse to use established relievers like Adam Ottavino or Seth Lugo in games the Mets were down by a run late, but would turn to lesser arms like Joely Rodriguez and Adonis Medina. Those games would go from one-run deficits to multiple-run deficits the Mets would not overcome.
Last night's game is another example of this. Instead of using Adam Ottavino, a reliever who did not appear on Opening Day, Showalter turned to John Curtiss, a reliever who had not pitched in a MLB game since August of 2021. Curtiss would give up a home run to Jazz Chisholm Jr. to extend the Marlins' lead from one run to two. Pete Alonso homered in the top of the ninth to get the Mets within one, but they'd ultimately fall 2-1.
Does Ottavino give the Mets a zero? I have no idea. It's very possible he allows four runs and lets the game get out of control. He was, however, the Mets second-best reliever all season long in 2022 and should be used as much as possible in close games. I get the need to use everybody, but it's not like Ottavino has been used yet.
The Mets showed that they were a team capable of coming back from just about any deficit last season. Who can forget the 7-1 comeback in Philadelphia? Give your team the best chance to win by using your best relievers when they're rested. If Ottavino had been used yesterday along with guys who were ultimately used like Drew Smith, Brooks Raley, and David Robertson I'd understand staying away from him, especially now, but the fact that he wasn't, makes it just that much more frustrating.
Every game counts, even the ones in April. The Mets lost the division due to a tiebreaker last season. Had they won one more game Showalter wasn't managing so conservatively, maybe the postseason would've ended differently.