Callaway On Dom Smith: 'I Think He Can Blossom Here'

Mike's On
July 19, 2019 - 6:30 pm
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The 2019 season has been disappointing for the Mets, largely due to the poor performance of the bullpen.

New York's pen currently sports a 5.30 ERA, the third-worst mark in all of Major League Baseball.

While the team's relievers have not pitched well this season, the group has been significantly better since returning from the All-Star break.

Over the last six games, the Mets' bullpen has allowed just six runs in 25 innings, including eight shutout innings during Thursday's 16-inning marathon loss against the Giants.

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Mets manager Mickey Callaway joined "Mike's On" Friday, and despite the result of Thursday's game, the skipper expressed some confidence that the bullpen has turned a corner.

"Yeah they're really stabilizing," the manager told Mike Francesa Friday afternoon. "I think a key factor has been getting (Justin) Wilson back. He's done a great job. I feel like if we know we can go to Wilson in the 7th, we can go to (Seth) Lugo in the 8th and we've got (Edwin) Diaz in the 9th, I think it makes it a little easier for those other guys and take some pressure off of them.

"We can bring those guys in the 5th or the 6th if we need to... That makes things a little bit easier. I think it helps out those other guys. And they've been working hard on whatever it is, whether it's their pitch mix, the distribution, the mechanics. They've really done a great job righting the ship."

New York has obviously been thrilled with the play of rookie Pete Alonso this year, but the team's former top first baseman prospect has also been enjoying himself a strong season.

Dom Smith has played well in limited action, hitting .290/.371/.529 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 155 at-bats in 2019.

Smith has been doing so well at the plate that Callaway has been forced to play the 24-year-old in the outfield just to get his bat into the lineup, something the team was not in favor of doing at the beginning of the season.

Dom Smith
USA TODAY Images

While he is a natural first baseman, the Mets manager believes that Smith is more than capable of holding his own in the outfield, and that he could have a bright future in New York, regardless of what position he plays.

"First off, I think he can blossom here," Callaway said about Smith. "I am very encouraged by what I'm seeing in the outfield from him. He's not going to run a ball down in the gap and make a fantastic play, diving or anything like that. But he catches every ball that he can get to, and he gets the ball in with a pretty accurate arm. And this guy can flat out rake.

"I'm sure that he has a ton of value in the industry, because he can play first, he can go to the outfield. He's got that ability to go and catch the ball and be a very, very good defensive first baseman and then a solid outfielder. We would like to keep him here. I think he can blossom here."

The Mets currently stand at 44-52, six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second Wild Card spot.

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and with New York having one of the worst records in the National League, a trip to the postseason seems unlikely at this point in time.

Callaway told Mike that the team is aware they only have a little over a week remaining to get themselves into the playoff picture, otherwise the front office will likely start trading players.

"Right now, we understand the reality of our situation," the manager said. "Our situation is one that in the next week and a half, we need to win some games and put ourselves in a position where it looks like we have a chance at that Wild Card. If we don't, I'm sure we're going to have to do things that we don't want to do.

"I think the players are aware of that, but right now they're focusing on winning games and trying to get back in this thing so we don't lose some of our teammates."

To listen to Mike's full interview with Mickey Callaway, click on the audio player above.