A series of changes -- not a single thing -- helped Anthony Swarzak reinvent himself and become the elite reliever he was in 2017, Tim Britton explained in a recent article for The Athletic.
"And so, like George Costanza, Swarzak did the opposite of everything he used to do," Britton wrote. "He changed his fastball from a two-seamer to a four-seamer. He changed his attack plan from getting ground balls to getting strikeouts. He stopped abhorring walks and started throwing balls on purpose."
Swarzak, who signed a two-year deal with the Mets this offseason, credited new Mets manager Mickey Callaway with helping transform his career when the two were in Cleveland in 2015 -- with Swarzak getting stronger and altering his delivery after advice from Callaway.
And Swarzak, who is expected to be part of a formidable back-end of the Mets bullpen this season along with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins, spoke with SNY about his journey earlier in Spring Training.
"My journey up until this point has been up and down," Swarzak said. "It's been a roller coaster ride. There's been some highs, there's been some lows. I've been backed into a corner a few times, and I've backed myself into that corner most of the time. But I've continued to fight my way out."
Swarzak added that he wasn't always max effort, and that his recent focus was on not leaving anything in the tank. And the results have been terrific.
He had a 2.33 ERA (2.74 FIP) and 1.03 WHIP with 91 strikeouts (a career-high 10.59 K/9) in 77 1/3 innings (70 games) last season for the White Sox and Brewers as his stuff ticked up. Swarzak's fastball averaged 94.7 MPH (up from 93.4 in 2016 and 92.2 in 2015) and his slider averaged 87.1 MPH -- both the fastest of his careeer.
"Don't hold back," Swarzak concluded. "You don't want it to all be over with and you still feel like you have some bullets left in the tank."