With the possibility of Mets closer Billy Wagner being done for the season, the team finds itself at a critical junction as they continue their improbable pennant race.
The loss of Billy Wagner is a major setback to say the least, but thanks to Luis Ayala, the sting of Wagner’s loss won’t be as devastating as some may believe.
Luis Ayala may not have been that well received by Mets fans after he was acquired last month. His ERA of 5.59 for the Nationals didn’t exactly have us jumping for joy. But, his arrival has been a big boost to what had been an ineffective bullpen comprised of pitchers who were unsuitable candidates to assume the role of the team’s closer.
Ayala has embraced his new team and relishes the opportunity he has been given to close out games for a team that finds itself in a hard fought battle for a division title.
Since joining the bullpen, Luis Ayala is 5 for 6 in save opportunities with a 2.70 ERA in his last ten appearnaces for the Mets.
His control has been his most impressive attribute and our other relievers can learn a lot from Ayala who certainly knows how to throw strikes. He rarely falls behind in the count, and he is not afraid to pitch to contact. He trusts the guys behind him defensively, and they in turn have performed well with Ayala on the mound.
I’m not saying that Ayala will be as good as Billy Wagner, but the Mets have a 22-11 record since Wagner last pitched, and Ayala has answered the call every time Jerry Manuel calls his number.
Not only has Ayala performed admirably as the closer, but because of him, Manuel has been able to use the rest of the bullpen effectively in their new bullpen roles. Joe Smith, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez and Scott Schoeneweis have all been used as specialists and have excelled since the arrival of Ayala. As a matter of fact, the Mets bullpen has not allowed a run in their last 26.2 innings pitched. That’s almost three straight shutouts!
Let’s give Luis Ayala his props…