The offseason signing of former Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde seemed like an incredibly wise move for the New York Mets by general manager Sandy Alderson after closer Bobby Parnell went down with an injury that requires Tommy John surgery, and will keep him out for the rest of the season. Valverde was immediately thrust into an unexpected, yet familiar role, and was off to a fast start until tonight. He blew a save and a 6-3 lead with two outs in the ninth inning to a three-run home run by veteran and seemingly ageless wonder, Los Angeles Angels DH Raul Ibanez.
The Mets’ bullpen would recover thanks to LHP John Lannan, who pitched two scoreless innings to get the win and closed in out in the 13th inning, after backup catcher Anthony Recker homered in the top of the frame, helping them to a 7-6 win.
Prior to the game, Valverde had filled in admirably for the injured Parnell — resembling somewhat of his former. It came as a surprise, as last season with Detroit, Valverde only appeared in 20 games, pitching to a 5.59 ERA in 19.1 innings. Many thought his career, in which he accumulated 286 saves since breaking into the majors in 2003, was all but over, as Valverde was wild and looked nothing like the pitcher who led the league in saves with 49 in 2011. However, the often over-animated reliever seemed to relish his new opportunity with the Mets, and had not given up a run in 5.1 innings as he gathered two saves while striking out an impressive seven batters to only one walk.
Not many believed Valverde could flourish as a closer anymore, suggesting it was just a matter of time before the tides turned, so it is not entirely surprising that it happened so soon. The Mets’ bullpen is mediocre at best, despite Lannan’s performance, and relying on the likes of Valverde and former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth is a complete gamble.
The Mets have shown they are not a soft team. The offense, while not overwhelming, is not putrid like many predicted prior to the season, and the starting pitching has been serviceable. However, if Valverde cannot somewhat replicate his good performances of the past, the Mets are in for a long season.