In the wake of New York Mets’ closer Bobby Parnell being sidelined for the rest of the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, Jose Valverde’s temporary move into the closer’s role appears to be more permanent. While the Mets hope that Valverde’s experience as a closer will allow him to replace Parnell without skipping a beat, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to hold down the closer’s job for the entire season which will put the Mets’ bullpen in a precarious position.
Despite his past history and success as a closer — making him the best options the Mets have to replace Parnell — Valverde is coming off the worst season of his career and has already showed signs of decline. He’s off to a good start early in the season, but he doesn’t have the same velocity or blow-away stuff that he had in his younger days, making it unlikely that he’ll hold up as the team’s closer for the entire season. At some point Valverde will break down and no longer be a viable closer, especially for a team that already has enough problems in its bullpen.
Moreover, the Mets will likely want to give one of their younger pitchers a chance at being the team’s closer rather than sticking with a veteran like Valverde for the entire season. Vic Black is likely to get a chance at some point if he can fix the control issues that plagued him during spring training and cost him a spot on the Opening Day roster.
The Mets may also want to give Jeurys Familia a chance to close at some point this season, as he may have the best pure stuff of anyone in the Mets’ bullpen. Jacob deGrom, Jeff Walters and Erik Goeddel are three more pitchers who could get a trial run as the Mets’ closer at some point this season once the Mets start adding players to their bullpen from their deep contingent of pitching prospects.
For now Valverde will be the Mets’ closer, which is the right move for the time being. But whether it’s because his performance will eventually decline or because the Mets want to try out some of their younger pitchers in that role, Valverde won’t remain in that role for the rest of the season.