Frank Francisco should not be closing games for the New York Mets right now. Period. I’m aware that Sandy Alderson went on his version of a spending spree to bring him to Flushing in order to save games for the Amazins, but it’s simply not working at this time. As if his meltdown that led to his ejection yesterday in Miami wasn’t enough proof, his 1-3 record, 8.56 ERA, .328 opponent batting average, and 1.98 WHIP should be plenty. Terry Collins will be mulling over whether he should remove the duties from Francisco for the time being while he gets himself right, and he has two options to replace him, Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell.
Why should Collins chose Rauch to be the closer over Parnell, you ask? It’s not simply because Rauch has more closer experience than Parnell, but that’s definitely part of it. He’s had four different seasons where he’s registered double-digit saves, and has saved 59 games overall in his career. New York’s setup man has been one of their most dependable relivers thus far in 2012; he has compiled a 3-1
record, 2.93 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP in 17 appearances. Also, he used to stepping in and closing games as needed, which is what he did last year with the Blue Jays for, yup, you guess it- Frank Francisco. Rauch is a 10-year MLB veteran that would be a great temporary solution as Dan Warthen tries to figure out why their $12 million man hasn’t performed up to expectations.
On the other hand, I’m not saying that Bobby Parnell isn’t deserving of the nod to take over closer duties. Parnell’s performance so far in 2012 (2.25 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2.30 GO/FO) has been impressive and he is undoubtedly be the most improved Mets reliever, but it’s just not the right time for him to start taking over the ninth. I do believe he can still be the closer of the future for this team, and I’m not saying he shouldn’t close right now because he struggled in his one opportunity this season, but for the sole fact that there is no one else in the bullpen that is as dependable as he is in the middle innings to build that bridge to the end of the game.
Ramon Ramirez was brought over from San Francisco to throw in the sixth and seventh innings to help get to Rauch and Francisco, but he hasn’t been able to do that, putting together a 4.66 ERA so far this season and having a hard time with his control, walking 10 batters in 19.1 innings. Manny Acosta is frequently the first man out of the ‘pen this season, which grinds my gears, and his 9.53 ERA makes me nauseous just looking at it. Miguel Batista is now in the starting rotation, but he wasn’t effective as a reliever, and it’s too early to see if D.J. Carrasco can pick up the slack.
So, I’m not saying that Bobby Parnell shouldn’t be closer right now for the Mets because of his performance or makeup as a relief pitcher, but simply for the fact that Terry Collins has nobody else that he can turn to once his starters tire in the sixth and seventh innings. With New York only 2.5 games out of first, they need to keep pace with Washington and Atlanta to give them a chance to compete as they get deeper into the season. The best thing to do for the team would be to keep Parnell in his role as the bridge to the late innings, and let Rauch take control of the ninth. As for the setup role? I would throw Tim Brydak in there, because he’s not only been effective against lefties, but also righties this year when asked. Who would be the left-handed specialist? If I were in charge, I’d get rid of Manny Acosta, and bring up a southpaw from Binghamton, perhaps a Justin Hampson (1-1, 2.75 ERA, 19.2 IP). Just sayin’.
Who would you rather see close games for the Mets, Rauch or Parnell?