The Mets are 5-2 after taking long-time nemesis Roy Halladay behind the woodshed last night. The starting pitchers have a 1.87 ERA with six Quality Starts in seven outings, with the lone non-QS coming with Aaron Laffey on the mound and Anthony Recker behind the plate. The offense has delivered a home run in each game and the Mets have a +20 run differential. Even the bullpen hasn’t been bad and Terry Collins used a lefty reliever for two innings Monday night.
It’s hard to imagine the season getting off to a better start.
That is, unless you are a Bobby Parnell fantasy owner. The Mets have won five games yet Parnell does not have a single Save. Right now, 33 different pitchers have logged a Save and 27 of the 30 teams in baseball have a Save. Besides the Mets, the other two teams without a Save are the 1-6 Marlins and the 3-4 Rays.
The past two years the Mets picked up a Save in their first victory of the season. Previously, no Mets team this century has opened the season with five victories and no Saves. In fact, you have to go back to 1971 to find the last Mets team to go without a Save in their first five Wins. Parnell owners might be relieved to know that Tug McGraw picked up a Save in the sixth victory of that year. What they won’t find comforting is that McGraw finished the ’71 season with just 8 Saves in 51 games.
Actually, it’s not all that odd for someone besides the Mets’ closer to pick up the first Save of the season. Here’s a list of years where that happened since 1971, with the actual closer in parentheses:
71 – McGraw (Danny Frisella)
78 – Mardie Cornejo (Skip Lockwood)
89 – Don Aase (Randy Myers)
93 – Mike Maddux (John Franco)
94 – Maddux (Franco)
99 – Allen Watson (Franco/Armando Benitez)
04 – Orber Moreno (Braden Looper)
10 – Mike Pelfrey (Francisco Rodriguez)
11 – Blaine Boyer (Rodriguez)
Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants for someone like Scott Atchison to get the team’s first save this year rather than Parnell?
In an ordinary year, it wouldn’t make much of a difference who gets the initial Save. Just because Mike Maddux vultured Saves in ’93 and ’94 – that didn’t pose any threat to Franco’s hold on the closer position. But with this being Parnell’s first shot to be the closer on Opening Day, it sure would be nice for him to salt away a Save sooner rather than later.
There’s still a bunch of reasonable doubt surrounding Parnell and his ability to be an effective closer. These early blowout victories have been nice but at the same time it would be a bit of relief for Parnell to have notched a save or two in this span. Curse defensive replacement Collin Cowgill and his eighth inning homer to make it a four-run game in the Mets’ third win of the season.
Now comes news that Frank Francisco is close to being ready to appear in minor league games. Signed to be the closer prior to the 2012 season, Francisco won few fans in his first year in Queens but the fact remains that he was 23-for-26 in Save Opportunities last season and Collins showed a lot of faith with him when many others would have replaced him.
If Parnell struggles in his first few opportunities to close games in 2013 – will Collins turn to a healthy Francisco? Or was the loyalty that Collins showed last year to the idea of having one closer, rather than Francisco himself?
Meanwhile, it would be nice if Parnell could convert some Save opportunities to help ease everyone’s mind. Perhaps he’ll seal the deal for a Dillon Gee win over the Phillies tonight.