Since coming off the disabled list, Frank Francisco has had trouble retiring hitters and couldn’t close the door on the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night, a game in which the team had a seven run lead entering the ninth. Granted it wasn’t a save situation, the Reds managed to get the tying run to the on deck circle. A game that was supposed to give Francisco extra work with save opportunities becoming a rarity these days, Francisco struggled and forced skipper Terry Collins to go to pull his closer and summon Jon Rauch who struck out the Reds’ pinch hitter Wilson Valdez on three straight pitches.
For a team that has been marred with bullpen blunders, for once there is a bright spot. A bright spot that was once a blemish for a team that was keeping afloat in the NL East, that blemish turned bright spot is reliever Jon Rauch.
When closer Frank Francisco was on the disabled list, skipper Terry Collins used Bobby Parnell as the teams closer, however Parnell struggled and left the manager having to piece together victories any which way that he could.
Francisco came back from the disabled list on August 4th and doesn’t look as good as he once did. A sub-par reliever at best, Francisco is forcing Collins’ to rethink who will hold the closer’s spot for the remainder of the 2012 campaign.
Collins might be thinking Jon Rauch should Francisco continue to suffer. Rauch, who was the subject of hate tweets after he served up the game winning home run to New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin, hasn’t been the most popular pitcher in an already unlikable bullpen, what fans are failing to realize is that Rauch has been money since Francisco has come back to the team.
Since Francisco came back on August 4th, Francisco has one save in five games with an era of 20.25. While Rauch has been lights out with two saves, not allowing a run in seven appearances.
Perhaps there should be another changing of the guard for the teams firemen. As I’ve stated earlier, save opportunities are scarce these days, and the Mets should be able to shut the door on games that they have a lead heading into the opposing team’s final at bat.
The organization doesn’t have a commitment to either pitcher and will have to address the bullpen come the off season, therefore, as stated multiple times, the 2012 season is another evaluation season that will have to see how the young talent fairs against major league talent. Having said that, should Rauch pitch well enough these last six weeks of the season, Rauch might have a contract waiting for him later this season.
If somebody were to ask Mets fans who should be the teams closer, Rauch’s name would’ve been dead last behind Miguel Batista, and Armando Benitez, but with the teams month and a half struggles, Rauch has been the one ray of light over the past darkened months.