Frank Francisco kind of, sort of came through Monday, saving the Mets win over the Brewers despite a shaky inning in which he allowed a run and put the tying runs on base. It was an uncomfortable inning following those two blown games in Miami over the weekend. Terry Collins seems intent on leaving Francisco in the closer’s role, but should he?
Collins said he spoke to Francisco prior to the game and told him it’s still his job.
“It’s, ‘Look, I trust you. I believe in you,’” Collins said before the game. “Let’s see if this works with what we talked about today, and we’ll make decisions as we go.”
Many writers and fans have already made that decision, saying Francisco should be pulled. Everyone is offering their own solutions. They include:
— Jon Rauch. Rauch would be the logical answer. He has previous closer experience, and even replaced the closer in Toronto for a stretch last season when that closer struggled. His name? Frank Francisco.
However Rauch is anything but automatic. He was cruising along until a couple of weeks ago when he hit a rough patch. In his last six appearances he has alternated between good and bad — giving up runs and not giving up runs. He pitched a flawless eighth inning on Sunday. At this point, though, he seems to be a better option than Francisco.
— Bobby Parnell. Parnell has been pitching well this season, but it can’t be forgotten that he was given the chance to close last season and could not handle the job. Collins seems wary of bringing Parnell into games in super-tight situations, such as when he pulled Francisco on Sunday, instead going with unreliable Manny Acosta. I think Collins wants to move slowly with Parnell, inching him closer to save situations. He likely is not ready yet.
Ironically, if Parnell had seized the closer job last season, Francisco probably would not even be on the team.
— Closer by committee. This is just a bad idea that never seems to work. By all indications it appears that relievers need to know their roles. They like to know approximately when they will be brought into games. In a closer by committee situation no one knows what their exact role is. They could be called on at any moment. It is a recipe for disaster, as the Red Sox found out a couple of seasons ago when they tried it.
It looks like we are stuck with Francisco for now. However one more blown save could force Collins’s hand. Stay tuned.