Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
So, I'm not exactly thinking completely outside the box here, but I wanted to again randomly bring up the simple concept of pitching the best-for-the-moment guy in each game, regardless of that reliever's specific role.
I'm thinking of this because of the recent news coming out of spring already regarding Bobby Parnell, and his determined role upon return from TJS sometime in April or early May. Parnell, who myself, along with others on this site, have actually/technically kinda proven through statistics is actually better in the 8th inning anyway, still apparently prefers to be the 'closer'. But again, does anyone really have to be the 'closer' on this team?
Whenever I think of the idea and concept of the setup man and closer, I always think about my buddy Scot (twitter handle @scottyc9 if ur into that sort of thing) who always preaches frustration against reliance on such a thing. His concept is simple. Why not simply play out each and every game as it goes, and if the starter needs to come out, go with the best guy for that hitter/situation/etc.
Crazy how, in this day and age of advanced statistics, over-analysis, Saber-whatever and number crunching, we still seem to accept the idea of identifying one guy to pitch in each particular end of game inning, 6-9, with another 'long relief' guy to be plugged in whenever a starter screws the pooch and needs to come out before then.
And the whole idea and aura which surrounds the 'closer' has always fascinated me. The whole statistic of the 'save' didn't even exist until the late 60s-early 70s, yet it is now given to someone who more and more is now an stat opportunity given to a guy along with additional millions, above what other bullpen guys on the team get. And for what? To get the same outs that all bullpen guys are asked to get in the first place?
Year after year, I hear about closers who, when in a non-save situation, are sometime said to lack the right amount of intensity and bulldog mentality during that outing, and sometimes even leads to giving up of runs. Not for nothing, but aren't all bullpen guys paid handsomely to meet the same task of getting guys out, regardless of inning or score at the time? Anyway, I believe I've gotten way off track here. Back to the Mets.
No matter the social media arguments floating around about this team, the surplus of arms still remains a positive on this team that can't be questioned or denied. And because of that, this team appears to have numerous bullpen options, and as many as 4 have been labeled as having 'closer' ability in Parnell, Black, Familia and Mejia. So I guess my question is, why do any of them have to be simply handed the year long role of always appearing in the 9 inning?
Yes, I assume a couple of teams in the MLB (I'm thinking Reds and Braves off hand) are certainly happy handing the ball to the same guy to close out each and every game in which they leading in the 9th, because of that one guy they each have. But the Mets have options.
So again, hear me out here, and go with me on this: Lets say Wheeler goes 7 solid innings, and the team is up somewhere between 1 and 3 runs going into the 8th. Perhaps Familia pitches the 8th, and Parnell closes out the win in the 9th. Then, the next night (don't argue rotation to mess with analogy) deGrom goes 7 solid innings, and the Mets again are up 1-3 runs. Hey, rather then pitch the same two guys (I'm also having same opponent be implied in this analogy) on back to back days, why not go Black and Mejia to close out that game? (please don't get started on the lefty-lefty matchups and overuse of Edging here in each game).
Do the Mets find themselves with less of a chance to win that following game because they went with the other guys, on at least one day rest, over the first two guys on zero day rest? The idea is to win. And I know that, following post game interviews after a few Mets wins last year, I remember Terry Collins discussing (and this is something I respect him for) the fact that he was managing to win the game, which is why he entrusted Familia (it was Familia a lot) to pitch on back to back or even a 3rd day, in order to help secure the win, regardless of the Mets lack of playoff chances at that point, etc.. He simply stated wanting to win the game, and going with the best guy in his mind.
Again, I completely understand that. And if it were April 2014, I would say please throw Familia back out there in game number 3 instead of seeing Farnsworth or Valverde. But thankfully it's 2015, and the Mets (pray for health blah blah blah) have an absolute solid core of guys in the bullpen, which even includes Edgin and Torres (don't forget my man Gee possibly, and old Mack's favorite option Montero).
During the upcoming season, plans have to obviously be in place, especially during each and every Harvey Day, but I guess maybe I'm simply trying to break it down to the every day concept of a starter going a solid 7, and wondering if it would truly be breaking some new age kind of tradition to just call the name of the guy who perhaps looks sharp warming up, ate his Wheaties, or shows advanced stat metrics of pitching his best on Tuesday afternoons against teams with x amount of lefty righty and bench options, and defensive adjustments, WAR ability, and of course factoring in the lack of range of Wilmer (yup, threw that in there for fun).
I'd like to think the Mets can win the 8th and 9th inning with any number of 4 different guys, regardless of which side of the batters box the damn hitter is standing in. And so, in a day and age where starters are monitored 24-7, pitch by pitch, and inning by inning to help some magical prevention of their next possibly pending TJS, why not also allow any/all solid bullpen guys the chance to close out games, with extra rest, and help this team win throughout the season, and perhaps into the playoffs???????