As the season draws closer to beginning, the Mets have a major question of injuries. Among them,, is Frank Francisco. He is in the final year of his two-year contract but has yet to throw a pitch this year. He is projected to possibly begin a throwing regiment in a few weeks. That may project him being placed on the DL for the beginning of the season.
Manager Terry Collins has already named Bobby Parnell to be Francisco’s replacement at the end of games. While he has the experience in that role, he has not had the level of success at it that should make the team and fans comfortable handing him the ball every day. With thirteen saves in two years, he hasn’t exactly blown people away like he should.
In fact, he has been far more effective in the set up role than in the closer role. In 2012 alone, he had 18 holds, five blown saves and seven saves. So in twelve save chances, he seven out of twelve. Is that what the team should want to expect while Francisco is out? What if there was another option? Enter Josh Edgin.
His rookie season was shaky at best, but he showed moments of dominance in pressure situations. He is slated to be one of two lefty specialists, with the other spot being left to battle between a few pitchers. When it comes to Edgin, the question is how he handles right-handed batters. Last season was not too good. His 4.56 ERA was inflated a bit by those hitters.
When you look a little deeper at his stats, you can see that he makes a decent case for closing out games. He has 33 career saves in the minor leagues. Granted, 27 of those are in A and A+ ball, but it’s still experience in closing out games. It’s understood that there is a huge difference between closing games in the minors than there is doing it in the majors, therefore, a closer look has to be made to determine how he responded to pressure situations at the MLB level last year.
According to Baseball Reference.com, opponents had a .125 AVG against him in clutch situations where he pitched with the team ahead in the game, as opposed to the .286 in a tie game and the .234 in a game where they are behind. It’s obvious that he respond to pressure. He likes to be the one with the ball and the game on the line. He succeeds in that role.
When the game is tied or they are behind and he has the ball, he is not as effective. The numbers don’t lie. He is just entering his prime and will only get better. He could be the Mets next Billy Wagner if the team shows him the confidence and hands him the ball consistently in the ninth inning. He has to develop that mentality at the MLB level. That is something that Parnell has not done by now and certainly will not develop at this stage in his career.
What would the Mets have to lose by giving him a chance to close out games over Parnell? Could he be that much worse than Parnell’s eleven blown saves in two seasons? It’s highly unlikely. At least by the numbers anyway.