Sunday, June 8, 2008

This Closer Not A Stopper

The Mets today had their toughest loss of the season. They had leads of 3-0, 5-3 and 6-4 and they gave them all up to the worst offensive team in the National League. After they had three straight well-pitched games where they only allowed 2 runs only to be betrayed by their offense, the Mets had an offensive outburst only to be betrayed by their pitching.

Now Billy Wagner is not anywhere near the Mets biggest problem. All in all, he has had a very solid season with 13 out of 16 saves and a 1.01 ERA. And although there is no real good time to blow a save, the timing of his blown saves do seem particularly bad. The Mets had lost three games in the standings to the Phillies in the last three days and were in position to stop the bleeding today before Wagner let up a 3-run blast to Tony Clark. A few weeks back the Mets had lost 4 straight games to the Braves and were sinking into the abyss when Wagner was called on to get a save against the Rockies and he let up a game-tying homerun in a game the Mets eventually lost in extra innings.

Last year, when the Mets had lost the first three in a series to the Phillies and needed a two-inning save to right the ship, Wagner failed them. Had he saved that game, the Mets would have won the division and the hangover and tag as "chokers" would not be on them. Now that be a little unfair by the monkeys. Certainly someone like Guillermo Mota would be more to blame for last year's collapse than Wagner, but more is expected from Wagner.

Before coming to the Mets, Wagner blew two key games for the Phillies against the team that eventually edged them out for the Wildcard ...the Astros. Having come so close to the playoffs had the Phillies fired up in 2007. You know the way teams are supossed to be fired up the year after they just miss the playoffs they expected to make the year before.

Perhaps the monkeys and other Mets fans have been spoiled by the guy in the Bronx. Mariano Rivera has set an impossible standard for closers. He has blown a few big ones (Sandy Alomar Jr's homer in 1997, Luis Gonzalez' walkoff hit in the 2001 World Series, a couple of blown saves to the Sox in the 2004 playoffs), but when you get as many postseason saves chances as he has had, you're bound to blow a few. And every time it happens, there is a sense of surprise, if not shock that doesn't occur when Wagner lets up a late inning homer.

Billy Wagner overall has been a great closer, but when it comes to Mets losing streaks, he hasn't been a great stopper. The Phillies fans learned this a few years back and now they are glad he listens when they sing this to him while he is on the Mets:

1 comment:

brick tamland said...

i hope wags stuck around his locker to answer the media questions.