Frank Francisco: Wins Keep Eluding Mets Without Their Closer


Sandwiched in between a six-game losing streak and this current five game losing streak is the Mets’ last and only win since the All-Star break.  That came back on July 19th against the Washington Nationals.

So what happened?  With no Closer, wins have eluded the Mets.

The Mets started the season with four consecutive wins.  And for the next three months, Terry’s Kids essentially rode the strength of those four games.  They finished April with a 13-10 record.  A fairly productive month of May followed in which the team achieved a 15-13 record.  So over the first two months of the season, that worked out to a 28-23 record.

Outside of losing Mike Pelfrey, things were going Amazingly smooth.  Closer to the truth, things were going surprisingly well.  That can not be stressed enough because the expectations placed upon this team changed dramatically over the Spring portion of the schedule.  While the Phillies and Marlins floundered, the Mets’ starting pitching was emerging as a major strength, which ultimately lifted the Mets to a better start and standing over their two aforementioned rivals.

But the wheels on the bus started to wobble dramatically in June.  The month was highlighted or marred, depending on your point of view, by extreme swings of fortune.  Except for one single game; a win; the Mets broke out the duel purpose brooms and dustpans.  Twenty-eight games played in June can be neatly packaged into eight streaks.  A mad month played out to usher in the Summer as such – Win-3; Lose-3; Win-1; Lose-3; Win-3; Lose-3; Win-4; Lose-4; Win-4.  However inconsistent, they did finish the month with another 15-13 record, and improved their overall record to 43-36; seven games above the .500 mark.

On June 22, 2012 against the Yankees, Frank Francisco earned his eighteenth save of the season.  For the Mets at the time, it was their fifth win in their last six games, and the eighth win in their last ten.  On that day, the Mets climbed to seven games above .500 by winning their thirty-ninth game of the season versus thirty-two loses.  That was the last time Frank Francisco took the mound for the Mets.  He was placed on the disabled list, and has since suffered a setback to boot.  He is not expected back before July expires.  Since his last appearance against the Yankees and starting on June 23rd, the Mets have played in twenty-six games.  Without their closer, they are currently 8-18 over that span.

Two posts ago, I pointed out how the Mets’ record has plummeted commensurate to the health and availability of their starting pitching.  But more acutely, the absence of Frank Francisco has been a far greater web that has snagged this team.  At the moment, the closer’s absence is much more detrimental to the team than Sandy Alderson’s unexplainable aversion to securing bullpen help.  As early as May 14th, I, and several of the other staff writers at Rising Apple started voicing our desire for a more proactive approach by the General Manager in addressing an obviously still flawed bullpen.  But the fact is, there is no one available right now at a price that suits the Mets who is better than Frank Francisco.

Let’s reserve matters of PRICE! for another rant shall we?  Instead, for the second consecutive season, Bobby Parnell was given a shot at the closer’s role.  For the second consecutive season, he failed to adequately nail down the job.  In Francisco’s absence, that was the best in-house option the Mets had.  Jenrry Mejia is still in Buffalo, and is not slated to close when he eventually fills a locker in Flushing.  Josh Edgin is turning out to be a pleasant surprise. But, now what?

This situation is, as it has been, wholly Sandy Alderson’s doing.  So at least a minor move on his part is warranted.  Because right now, I sense Mets fans do not need much reason to revolt.  Something to at least add some depth and give Coach Terry a different option is critical to the Mets’s season now.  The calender still says July and there are sixty-five games left on the schedule.  Somewhere between making the playoffs, or just saving a feel-good season is what we are dealing with.  Nothing more; nothing less.  But the General Manager should be making a move to stop the bleeding first.  The team’s season doesn’t need a tourniquet yet.  As dire as things seem, for now a field pressure dressing will do.  The trade deadline is incapable of solving all the Mets’ problems.  Most fans get that.  But at the same time, nothing needs to be subtracted from the 2013 equation in order to secure some bullpen help now.

Sandy Alderson can not be blamed for Bobby Parnell’s failures.  Nor can the GM be blamed for an injury to the closer he himself imported from Canada.  But fault can be found in the General Manager’s inactivity, as other teams have already started making deals around him.  And why not credit some fault for signing Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch as a tandem after they failed together in Toronto.  So to rectify that, in so far as making a deal, at last check the Mets’ system had more than just a couple of top ranked pitchers to shop with.  And that right there is the genesis for the simmering frustration with Sandy Alderson.

To the General Manager’s credit and injury aside, Frank Francisco is looking like an awfully good signing now.  The Mets sorely need him back on the mound closing games again.  The correlation between the Mets’ spiral to Francisco’s absence is uncanny.