Was Mickey Callaway too shift-happy in Monday's win?

Was Mickey Callaway too shift-happy in Monday's win?

by Tim Reilly May 22, 2018 0 Comments

The Mets picked up another quality win Monday night and have now come out on top in four straight games. Jason Vargas had a short, but strong showing while the bullpen did another stellar job, as it held the Marlins scoreless over four frames in a 2-0 win.

There is a key point that I feel worth revisiting during Jerry Blevins’ lone batter faced. With runners on first and second in the sixth and two out and the Mets clinging to a 1-0 lead, Blevins was brought in to face lefty Justin Bour.  The Mets adjusted their defensive alignment into a drastic shift, leaving only third baseman Luis Guillorme on the left side.

For some reason, Guillorme was positioned essentially right behind the runner on second, Starlin Castro. As a result, it seemed like Blevins became preoccupied with monitoring Castro.. Blevins spent a lot of time looking Castro back and stepped off the mound a couple of times, as he looked uncomfortable with what was behind him. It’s easy to say he should’ve been focused on the batter, but in a high leverage spot in a one-run game and the tying run is being given third base, that's easier said than done. 

It’s a hell of a lot more simple to score from third than second. A blooper, slow roller, passed ball, or any number of things can go wrong that would allow a runner to score from that position. Ron Darling was irate with the shift and pointed out that baseball has become almost “unwatchable” in these situations. He’s not wrong.

I’m all for using analytics. There is absolutely a time and a place for them in the game. This just wasn’t one of them. You’re telling me there wasn’t another way to adjust the shift so that one player would be within range to protect third base? A manager needs to know when to use analytics and when to use common sense, and I felt like Mickey failed to do that on Monday. Callaway essentially handed the Marlins third base with the game on the line, as Castro eventually took third base, and when Bour walked, it ultimately pushed the potential go-ahead run to second. All because Blevins was in an uncomfortable spot.

Fortunately, A.J. Ramos prevented this from spoiling the night. Ramos relieved Blevins and escaped this bases-loaded jam before recording three more big outs in the seventh. And I think Callaway owes Ramos a heartfelt thank you for bailing him out.

Photo credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports




Tim Reilly
Tim Reilly

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