Kyle Farnsworth, the next bad Mets closer

Mets’ fill-in closer Jose Valverde has been awful over his last three appearances. During that span of just three innings, he’s given up 8 runs (5 earned) on six hits. Four of those hits were home runs. It’s almost like he’s no longer a viable, high-leverage closer. Who would’ve thought it? Except for the Tigers, who released him after multiple failed attempts at reviving his closer role with the team. Also, all of the other teams that didn’t sign him this off-season probably had an accurate reading on what he had left in the tank.

To be fair, Valverde wasn’t signed to be the Mets’ closer. It was a move, according to Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson, to add a veteran presence to the bullpen. Unfortunately for Mets fans, “veteran” in manager Terry Collin’s eyes means “first crack” and “long leash.” Such was the case when Bobby Parnell went down with injury and Valverde was slotted in the closer role.

Collins suggested after Valverde’s latest meltdown that he’d address the situation. This ultimately translates to Valverde being pushed out of the closer role, which actually flies in the face of his tendency to have a long leash with veterans a bit. Perhaps he’s starting to feel the pressure of the Mets shifting priority, which is moving from rebuilding and developing young players to trying to actually win games.

Kyle FarnsworthNote that the original draft of this piece predicted that veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth would be selected to inherit the closer role. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Collins made that official this morning. Mets fans now have the privilege of depending on a pitcher that the team found it necessary to release during Spring Training because of an absolutely abysmal performance to close games. They later re-signed him to a minor league deal. Now he’s the team’s closer. Baseball is funny like that.

Farnsworth has actually been rather good so far in 2014. He’s given up one earned run and six hits while striking out five and walking no one over eight appearances and 7.1 innings. Although his 1.23 ERA is outperforming his 2.53 FIP, he has an ERA- of 35(!). Don’t let that fool you, though.

His velocity is down and has been going down over the last few years, which is not surprising for the 38-year-old. His ERA and FIP are also completely out of line with what he’s put up the last couple of years. Don’t forget that we’re still very much in small sample territory here. Valverde had fantastic numbers over his first several appearances before completely imploding.

Is it fair to prematurely deem Farnsworth as a failure as closer? It’s a prediction in which I’d be very glad to be wrong. It’s certainly possible that he’s having a renaissance-type year, much like the Mets had with LaTroy Hawkins last season. They really shouldn’t bank on it, though.

The problem is that there are no real alternatives on the roster at this point. That’s a failing on Alderson’s part, and one that he’ll need to address sooner rather than later. This team will sink or swim with its pitching staff, and having a bullpen that (again) ranks near the bottom of the league is a surefire way for this team to submit yet another losing season.

7 comments for “Kyle Farnsworth, the next bad Mets closer

  1. Metsense
    April 20, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Excellent analysis Rob.
    The winds are changing in Mets land.
    Davis was getting paid 3.1M but Duda was named the starter.
    Matsuzakis, the veteran, has a good spring but Mejia out pitches him and gets the rotation spot.
    The clean up batter isn’t hitting and he is moved out of the 4 hole.
    The backup catcher is actually getting playing time unlike last year.
    The backup SS is also given a chance to start because the starter is not performing. Last year that same SS was always starting until he was finally demoted.
    TC is not managing like he has in the past. He is consciously doing things different.
    Valverde is the latest example. Too bad Sandy has not given TC more weapons to work with. 9-9 is a significant improvement for this team.

    • Patrick Albanesius
      April 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      As usual, I agree with your outlook. TC is changing, ever so slightly.

  2. Chris F
    April 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    One of Aldersons greatest blights has been his complete failure to solve relief pitching. The present drama is unnecessary, unless you think, like I do, that worrying about relief pitching is the last thing you do in building a winning club. Until a team is serious, I’m not expecting real investments in the pen, or going the Cardinal Way in bringing up young starters from the farm into an mlb relief role. As a quick aside, there is only 1 team in the mlb that has the same closer as 3 years ago, and that’s the Braves…the fascination with Parnell has past it’s shelf life (even with the UCL tear), and so believing he is the closer of 2015 simply fails to recognize his days as a premier closer were short, and now over.

  3. April 21, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Why not re-sign Hawkins who showed the Mets and SA he was still a capable and viable option last year? Oh! That’s right SA let him walk when the asking price was too high for what SA thought his value should be,So here we go again. Let’s sign 2 retreads who failed miserably in high profile cities and watch them crumble. That’s SA fault. No one else. Parnell was coming back from neck surgery and he let walk a true number 2 closer he already knew could pitch. Instead he tried to solve the problem his way and now we can watch the season slowly go down the drain. Can someone please tell me where the master plan is? Why is it that this organization is constantly reacting instead of being pro active like the Cardinals? If the axiom that you can never have enough pitching is true, why isn’t that being applied to the bullpen? How many years now has this team had egg on their face because of their inability to maintain a consistent pen. It’s depressing.

    • Jerry Grote
      April 21, 2014 at 4:53 am

      +1. Was a big fan of resigning Hawkins (and Harang), and keeping/resigning Byrd.

  4. Jerry Grote
    April 21, 2014 at 4:49 am

    When you look at the breakdown of Farnsworth’s tosses on Fangraphs, he is a remarkable study. He no longer tosses as many fastballs, and his speed has gone up … at the same time, his sinkerball is slowing and he’s throwing more of them.
    But what I would guess is making him effective is the disparity between his heat and his “off-offerings”. His range between an 83-84 cutter/slider and a 93-94 fb/sinker has got to wreck havoc on the swing.

    I wonder how long his arm will hold up. Ultimately, he’s not really “better” … his xFIP and SIERA indicate what that 40% linedrive and falling GB ratio is screaming out at you about a sinkerball pitcher.

    The league is going to catch up with him, and right quick.

  5. Danny T
    April 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Im a Yankee fan..but I respect the Mets, for they are a New York team.The Wilpons have money…they need to stop being cheap…and spend more money on good players.Its inexcusable.The team is run absolutely terrible.It used to be exciting to watch a Yankee-Mets interleague game.The Mets were a very good team….quite a few years ago.When they had Reyes,Delgado,K-rod,etc…Now…its painful to watch them.If the Wipons start going back to the 06-07 years and
    use those teams as a blueprint for the future..They would have a great competing team that could be playoff bound…every year.They are tough to watch….simply..because its the ownerships fault.Thats a shame.

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