Depressed Mets Fan

Building character since 1962

Could two closer situation get awkward?

Posted by jmkraft on December 12, 2008


First of all, let me clarify that I am very, very happy that the Mets have acquired the services of both Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. Ecstatic is more like it, actually. But I couldn’t help but think, as the cynical Mets fan I am, that having two All Star closers in one bullpen could possibly lead to an awkward situation. Here is what Keith Law had to say about the acquisition of Putz:

If he’s fully healthy, he’s one of the most dominant late-game relievers around, with outstanding control and an out-pitch splitter. He’ll make more of a difference to the Mets’ bullpen than the other guy they acquired this week.

So the possibility of Putz out-pitching K-Rod seems a real possibility. Let’s compare their pitching lines from 2007, because Putz was injured for part of last season.

Putz: 68 G, 71.2 IP, 37 H, 11 ER, 6 HR, 13 BB, 82 SO, 6 W, 1 L, 40 SV, 2 BLSV, 1.38 ERA

Rodriguez: 64 G, 67.2 IP, 50 H, 21 ER, 3 HR, 34 BB, 90 SO, 5 W, 2 L, 40 SV, 6 BLSV, 2.81 ERA

Yep, Putz was better in 2007. Not that K-Rod was particularly bad, though. So the question is, should Putz prove to have a better start to the year than K-Rod, does he assume the closer role? Or does Jerry Manuel realize that K-Rod is the guy signed for three years while Putz is a free agent after the season in all likelihood, and keep the roles as they are now for the purposes of continuity? Note here that Jerry has said before that he likes to play the hot hand. But, then again, he seemed to lock Luis Ayala into the closer role very, very quickily as to better define roles in the bullpen last year. 

The Mets have had two closers before. In 1986, RHP Roger McDowell had 22 saves, while  LHP Jesse Orosco recorded 21. In 1999, LHP John Franco had 19 saves and RHP Armando Benitez had 22. So it’s been done before. But let’s be real here, the Mets have never had two pitchers like Putz and K-Rod in their bullpen at once. Not only that, both of these guys are established closers, two of the best in the game. So the possibility of a power struggle is real. 

I’m encouraged by the fact that, apparently, Putz’s agent told him that he’ll be a set-up man for a championship team for just one year and then he can cash in on the free agent market. And, apparently, that was enough for Putz to accept his new role. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if this topic comes up again in the future.


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