ATLANTA— As the Mets’ bullpen enjoyed a strong start to the season, reliever Paul Sewald did his part by producing a 1.98 ERA through the end of April.
Since the calendar has turned to May, though, it’s been a different story. After allowing two runs in 1 1/3 innings in the 8-2 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday night, which included him surrendering a grand slam, Sewald has posted a 6.65 ERA since April.
He has allowed runs in five of his last six outings.
“Pitches have been over the middle of the plate,” Sewald said. “Earlier in the year I wasn’t throwing pitches over the middle of the plate, was hitting corners and changing speeds and doing what I do best and being successful.”
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Sewald relies on deception and location, and when he can’t locate his pitches, he doesn’t have good enough stuff to get away with it.
The righty planned to watch video to see how he could return to his mechanics when all was well, but also said it’s a “mental thing.”
“My conviction when I throw pitches,” he said.
In Tuesday’s game, Sewald entered with the bases loaded and two outs and the Mets trailing, 3-2, and promptly allowed a grand slam to Ozzie Albies.
He also allowed a run in the seventh inning.
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“Tried to go inside, leaked over the plate, which has been my problem the last few weeks,” Sewald said. “Bit us at the worst time. Cost us a chance to come back.”
Sewald’s struggles show the tight spot the Mets are in with their bullpen since the team lacks reliable options beyond Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway does not use several relievers, and some have not proven worthy of handling high-leverage situations.
When the Mets were going good, Sewald was an important part of the bridge that helped get the ball to the ninth inning. They need him to step up while Seth Lugo serves as a starting pitcher or the bullpen’s issues will continue.