One of the problems the Mets have suffered this season is a bullpen that has thrown gasoline on the fire far too often. Recently the team relief corps collective ERA has been at, or near the bottom of the league rankings. One bright spot has been Paul Sewald, who has steadily improved since being recalled from Las Vegas.
The right-handed Sewald was a 10th round June draft selection back in 2012, and he’s worked his way up through the Mets minor league system to reach the big club this year. He has been used exclusively as a relief pitcher, and he was the closer with the 51s last season. The Las Vegas native is listed as 6-2, 195 pounds, and he turns 26 on Friday, May 26.
As of this writing (before Tuesday night stats) Sewald had pitched in 10 MLB games this season, with 13 IP, and an ERA of 2.70. ESPN has an interesting stat called 10 game log, in which a player’s performance over those last 10 games he has played is tracked. In this case, Sewald has pitched in 10 games so far, so that stat tracks his season to date.
What particularly stands out is the way his ERA has improved, with a remarkably consistent decline. Sewald had a rocky initial outing on April 8 vs. Miami when he yielded two earned runs in one-third of an inning, which put his ERA at a whopping 54.00. His next appearance lowered the ERA a bit to 13.50, and the next one to 7.71. It then dropped to 4.15, and his next game saw it drop to respectable environs at 3.52. It then fell to 3.12. In his next game he pitched three innings and gave up a run, but that was the one time his ERA rose, to 3.38. The ERA then resumed its downward trend to 3.00, followed by 2.92 and then down to 2.70 where it stands as of this writing.
Sewald mainly relies on a sinking fastball and a biting slider. The fastball velocity is not overwhelming, usually topping out in the low 90s. He does get the ball over the plate, he’s issued only three bases on balls in his 13 IP. And despite the relative lack of fastball velocity, he does get his share of K’s with 15 so far.
To date Sewald has not pitched in close games in the majors very much, he frequently is sent out in lopsided games. For example, he’s pitched in a 14-4 win over Philadelphia and an 11-3 thrashing of Miami, as well as an 11-4 loss to the Brewers and the recent 12-5 loss to the Angels.
Perhaps it is time to use him in the seventh or even eighth inning of closer games. The other relievers are not getting the job done. The bullpen performance of the Mets needs to be improved, and based on what Sewald has done so far, he should at least be given a chance in some of these higher-stakes situations.