While New York Mets reliever Frank Francisco recovers from elbow surgery, newly acquired relief pitcher Brandon Lyon appears to be the favorite to take over the closer job. Will Lyon be able to lockdown the closer duties permanently for the Mets?
Lyon signed a one-year, $750,000 contract last Friday that includes an additional $1.65 million in incentives. He is expected to be one of the top relievers in the bullpen for New York. The 33-year-old split time between the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros last season in which he went 4-2 with a 3.10 earned run average, 63 strikeouts (career high), one save and 12 holds in 67 appearances.
Francisco, the Mets closer in 2012, underwent surgery in December to have a bone spur cleaned out of his right elbow. New York is confident he will be ready for Opening Day but obviously, they would like some competition for the closer role considering how much the 33-year-old struggled last season. The right-hander had a difficult time staying healthy which led to his 1-3 record, 5.53 ERA (career worst), 47 strikeouts and 23 saves in 48 trips to the mound.
Lyon has 79 career saves and is more than capable of handling the ninth inning role. However, it has been a couple of years since he took on the closer duties full time which means there could be a bit of an unknown for the Mets. If New York does decide to give Francisco the closer position when he returns to the team then expect Lyon to be the setup man.
The right-handed Lyon has been around Major League Baseball long enough to know a spring training competition when he sees one. Whether or not he comes out victorious is unknown, but it should make Mets fans happy to know there is a fight for the most important role in the bullpen.