Mancuso: Oswalt Has Earned His Spot

Look at every game as a plan for next season. And the Mets have that agenda with their starting rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and possibly Steven Matz. Then there is Right-Hander Corey Oswalt who came out of the pen Tuesday night and earned his first win as a relief pitcher.

His 3.0 scoreless innings paved the way to a Mets come-from-behind 6-3 win over the Giants after Matz gave up two first inning runs and was done after 5.0 innings.

So every outing, out of the pen, or as a spot starter, just gets better for Corey Oswalt. For the Mets, this has been a work in progress and Corey Oswalt is getting those looks to be a part of a pitching staff in 2019.

You would not figure the 24-year old Oswalt in the plan, a Mets seventh-round pick in the 2012 First- Year Player draft, but Matt Harvey is long gone and there has been a spot after deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Matz.

Then there is the manager, Mickey Callaway who is giving his evaluation. Oswalt is proving he belongs here and based on his role as a starter, and out of the pen, there is every reason to stick with the plan contributing more in the final six weeks of a season that is about evaluating for 2019.

“He’s a guy that goes out and make pitches,” Callaway said. “Whether he starts or relieves we’ve seen him I think twice out of the pen now and he’s had two really good lengthy outings and has been very effective on very few pitches, so it has been nice to know that we have guys like he and Seth that can step in the rotation, can step in the bullpen.”

Callaway was referring to Seth Lugo, another cog out of the pen who finished the ninth inning in a non-save situation. Lugo can also start and has been used in that role.

This all a part of the Mets offseason plans and revamping the pen is a priority. They may be a step closer with Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Oswalt. And there are options to place one of the three in the  starting rotation if that is needed.

And Oswalt has caught the attention of the scouts and if the right deal comes across the board,that does provide the Mets another option in the trade market to upgrade the infield or even an outfield position.

These are the baby steps again of rebuilding and getting back to contention in 2019.

But Oswalt is thinking ahead, as is the manager and that includes slotting Jeff McNeil every game at second base in the lineup. The rookie got the game winning run with an RBI double in the eighth inning and that fourth hit also tied a career high.

 Jeff McNeil #68 runs to 3rd base on a double by New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores #4 in the 7th inning  Credit: Sportsday wire

“Whatever the team needs right now, whether that is starting, spot starting, bullpen, I just want to go out there and get the guys out,” said Oswalt. But I feel good where I am at right now.”

This 22nd come-from-behind win improved the Mets record to 11-7 in their last 18 games, 23-22 since July 1. The bullpen, which lost many games in the first half, and partly responsible for this losing season, has an ERA of 1.44 over 25.0 innings over the last six games.

This month, the bullpen has a combined 2.65 ERA in 68.0 innings. That’s a major contrast when Callaway went with Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos, and Jeurys Familia. And with Blevins in a walk-off year that leaves more of an opportunity to prove Corey Oswalt is worth coming out of the pen next year.

So these next six weeks there is something to play for. And what Corey Oswalt is bringing to the table does leave that room for optimism.

Steven Matz said there is still a need for his self improvement. The Mets bullpen will be revamped and that is certain, but signs are there that Corey Oswalt will be in that plan.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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