We’re only through three weeks of the season, and the New York Mets are already on their third closer of the year. After yet another meltdown from Jose Valverde Saturday night, the Mets announced this morning that Kyle Farnsworth will take over the 9th inning — at least for now.
Valverde’s last stand as a closer was a doozy. With the Mets trailing by one in the top of the 9th, Terry Collins put Valverde into the game, hoping he’d keep them in the game. Instead, Valverde allowed Jordan Schafer to reach by committing an error. Papa Grande struck out Jason Heyward, but Schafer stole second. After getting B.J. Upton to foul out, the Mets decided to intentionally walk Freddie Freeman with two outs and first base open, opting to face Justin Upton instead. That…did not work out so well:
Valverde got Evan Gattis to ground out to end the inning, but the damage was done — so much damage that even with an unlikely rally against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 9th, the Mets came up short.
After converting his first two save opportunities of the year, Valverde has given up four home runs in his past three appearances. His 5.40 ERA would look a lot worse after last night if all three of those runs weren’t unearned thanks to his own error. The fact that he was playing a prominent role in the New York bullpen in the first place tells you how sad the state of the Mets’ bullpen is right now.
So the Mets will replace the 36-year-old Valverde with 38-year-old Kyle Farnsworth, who at least has had a productive handful of innings to start the year. He’s only given up one run in his first 7.1 innings, but like Valverde, he’s a few years removed from the last time he was considered good — and even that year was unlikely. Farnsworth has lost nearly 3 mph off his fastball since that improbable 2011 run in Tampa and is coming off of back-to-back years of an ERA over 4.
Farnsworth is the hot hand and could end up doing fine in the 9th inning, but since these are the Mets we’ll likely be talking about another closer change in a month after he lets a lead or two get away. Vic Black, one of the pieces the Mets got in return for Marlon Byrd last season, has yet to give up a run in Triple-A Las Vegas, but has walked 7 batters in just 6.1 innings. LaTroy Hawkins, who was with the Mets last season and put up a 2.93 ERA before they let him leave as a free agent, is 5-for-5 in save opportunities with Colorado and hasn’t allowed a run since his first appearance of the year.
If you want to be completely fair to the Mets, Bobby Parnell needing Tommy John surgery caught them off guard and sent them scrambling after the season had already started. But Parnell showed some warning signs this spring, and it’s not like Sandy Alderson built a deep bullpen even before Parnell got hurt. They’re so thin, they can’t even go with Closer by Committee.
With Matt Harvey out for the year, it’s not like the Mets were planning on contending, even with the signings of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. But they were at least hoping to be competitive, and that’s hard to do when you have a revolving door in the 9th inning and nobody capable of stepping in.