Aside from teams with elite closers, like Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, the turnover rate in the closer's role is very high. Nearly half the teams in the major leagues will end up changing closers during a given season for different reasons, primarily injury and poor performance. The New York Mets know this very well, as they are already on their third closer of the season and it is only April 25th.
The Mets entered 2014 with Bobby Parnell as their closer, but after one horrendous outing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day it was clear something was wrong. Parnell's velocity had dipped and he had no movement on his pitches, leading some to speculate he was injured. The Mets' worst fears were confirmed as Parnell complained of a sore elbow, and MRI's revealed that Parnell had a torn ulnar collateral ligament and would miss the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
After Parnell was lost, the Mets named Jose Valverde their second closer of the season. Valverde got off to a good start in the role, recording two saves and holding opposing teams scoreless over his first five five outings. Despite his tendency to get himself into trouble, Valerde would find his way out of it. Valverde then started giving up home runs at an alarming rate, blowing a save in Anaheim and serving up four home runs in his next three appearances. Valverde was channeling his inner Armando Benitez, and that wasn't going to work for manager Terry Collins. Collins yanked Valverde from the closer's role last weekend, after he gave up a crucial three run homer in a non save situation against the Atlanta Braves.
The Mets named Kyle Farnsworth their third closer over the weekend, and he's appeared to be stable in the role so far. Farnsworth recorded saves in his first two opportunities, although he walked a tight rope against the Cardinals on Wednesday. Farnsworth seems like a safe bet for now, although past performance indicates Farnsworth is capable of imploding under high pressure at critical times.
The odds are likely that this won't be the last change the Mets make in the closer's chair. If Farnsworth loses the job, the Mets will be struggling to come up with options. Going back to Jose Valverde is an option, but one the Mets likely would prefer to avoid. The Mets could eventually end up turning to a youngster, like Jeurys Familia or Vic Black, to close if circumstances warrant it. Either way, the Mets and their fans will want to stock up on Alkaseltzer and Tums for wild ninth innings this year.
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