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Mets to use a closer-by-committee approach in 2018

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Mets are prepared to enter the 2018 season without a designated closer. According to comments made by manager Mickey Callaway, the club will utilize a committee featuring AJ Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins as they look to maximize their flexibility during games.

The change appears to be coming at a good time for the Mets. Their bullpen placed third-best among all major league teams in 2016 with a collective 3.53 ERA and 6.5 fWAR, but 2017 saw them plummet to the bottom of the leaderboard, where they ranked fifth-worst in the league after topping off a disappointing season with a cumulative 4.82 ERA and 1.2 fWAR. One of the clear culprits was right-hander Jeurys Familia, who ran up a 4.38 ERA, 5.5 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 in 24 2/3 innings. Familia incurred a 15-game suspension following domestic violence charges in 2016 and was sidelined another 15 weeks when an arterial clot was detected and surgically removed from his right shoulder.

The Mets have taken some steps toward improving their bullpen this offseason, most notably with a two-year, $14 million contract for free agent right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak is coming off of his most valuable season to date after completing successful back-to-back stints with the White Sox and Brewers last year, and should be able to help shift the Mets’ standing in a positive direction.

Aside from his four-man closer committee, Callaway told Morosi that he’ll alternate between a seven- and eight-man bullpen in 2018 and won’t hesitate to exercise his relievers’ minor league options in the event that the bullpen gets taxed during long games. At least five of the Mets’ relief pitchers still have options remaining this year.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.