If you’ve watched the Marlins-Mets series over the weekend, a major takeaway was clearly the problems both teams have at the closer position. I diagrammed what is ailing Heath Bell in this lovely piece, and his head still isn’t totally into the game right now. His curveball is flat, allowing hitters to sit on the fastball. And even the heater is giving Bell trouble in terms of control. He allowed two runs in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon with Miami wearing its orange uniforms, making Bell look like Garfield the cat sans John, Odie the dog and a heaping helping of lasagna.
Bell has been nominally removed from the closer’s role by Miami Manager Ozzie Guillen, with a committee led by Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica leading the way. Bell was given the customary closer’s job of coming into a tie game at home in the ninth inning, so perhaps Guillen is trying to restore the faith in his $27 million man.
On the Mets side, Frank Francisco blew his second save in three days on Sunday and lost his mind as well (he may have lost his closer’s job as well, we’ll see about that). After a couple of strike calls that did not go his way, Francisco looked totally rattled and as manager Terry Collins removed him from the game, Francisco incessantly barked at home plate umpire Todd Tichenor and Collins had to restrain him. Francisco was ejected from the game even though Collins had already replaced him with Manny Acosta. Acosta proceeded to load the bases and serve up a walkoff grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in an 8-4 defeat.
It would be foolish for Collins not to at least consider his options after Francisco’s pitching woes were compounded by his petulant arguing of balls and strikes with Tichenor. His on the field antics reveals that he may not have the mental makeup to close right now. Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell have both closed in the past, and those would likely be the top two options to take over the role if Collins chooses to head in that direction. Perhaps a committee with lefty Tim Byrdak could also be in order.
Long story short, these two teams have to address its back end bullpen issues before we can discuss either team contending for a playoff berth.