New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has been confused lately. While he knows he gets paid to close games, on many days he doesn’t know if he will have to pitch more than one inning, which impacts his rhythm and the bullpen as a whole.
“It is tough because in preparation, you don’t know if you have to prepare for coming into the game with one out in the eight or you may have to get two outs in the eight to go into the ninth,” Rodriguez told the New York Daily News. “It’s a lot easier when you already know … who’s going to be the guy in front of you.”
While match-ups weigh heavily in Mets manager Jerry Manuel’s bullpen decisions, injuries have also played their part.
Remember Kelvim Escobar? He signed over the winter, in hopes of being the setup man, but Escobar is out for the season — and maybe for good — with a shoulder injury.
Igarashi began to emerge in April, but a strained hamstring has stunted his consistency and workload.
For the better parts of two months, the best eight-inning options have been Feliciano and Dessens.
Manuel would ideally not like to use Feliciano in an exclusive eighth inning role, as he is vital in getting out big lefty bats, and sometimes those match-ups present themselves prior to the eighth-inning.
Dessens has been great since his call-up on May 21, pitching 9 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run, six hits and two walks. In fact, since his call up, where he gave up both runs against the Yankees, he has been spotless since. However, will a 39-year-old pitcher be as dependable come September?
The Jenrry Mejia bullpen experiment is over. He was sent down to Double-A Binghamton to stretch out his arm, so he can eventually be a starter. He was an effective bullpen option, but his talent was being wasted in the majors as he has to learn secondary pitchers and go through his ups and downs in the minors.
The Mets have since recalled Bobby Parnell, who pitched a scoreless inning on Tuesday. Parnell looked good as he had his fastball working and notched two strikeouts. In that set up role, has a world of potential as he does throw gas. If he can harness his potential and lock in that fastball, he can take off in that role.
Another wildcard in the bullpen is John Maine. With R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi claiming spots in the starting rotation, Maine has been squeezed out. However, after struggling to throw 88 pitches last week for Buffalo, Maine suffered right shoulder tendinitis.
Winning in October begins with pitching in April.