Remember when Frank Francisco went on the disabled list in late June and shortly thereafter the Mets season spiraled out of control? Well, he’s back and now his season is spiraling out of control.
Francisco has appeared in five games since his return on August 4. In 2.2 innings he has allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks. He ERA shot up from 4.97 before the DL to 6.25. In his last two appearances he has nearly blown two large leads, needing Jon Rauch to bail him out.
Now, four out of the five games in which Francisco has appeared have not been save opportunities (those are few and far between these days for the Mets). Many closers say they can’t get up for such non-pressure situations. I don’t know if that is the case here, but that is just a load of nonsense. In the last two games, they became pressure situations and Francisco still couldn’t pitch his way out of them.
Something is definitely going on with him. Maybe he is not fully healed from his oblique problem, a relatively new injury that seems to take a long time from which to recover. Or maybe he is just not back in the rhythm of pitching yet after missing more than a month.
Either way, Terry Collins has a decision to make. I think he should just make Rauch the closer for now. Rauch has had his struggles this season, but he has pitched very well of late. He has not allowed a run since July 26, and before that the last run he had allowed was on June 23.
When Sandy Alderson signed both of these guys he said either one could close. Well, it is time to institute the Jerry Manuel way of thinking and “ride the hot hand.” Let Francisco figure himself out, and by the time Rauch begins to falter, Francisco will be ready to resume his closer role.