Let’s face it, we’re all concerned and rightly so about Johan Santana’s elbow. Take him out of the Mets’ rotation and suddenly we look like the Braves. But a few days ago I was reading the (awesome) USA Today sports page, and there was a capsule preview about the 2009 Mets, and about how Omar Minaya went out and grabbed two closers to make up for the absence of Billy Wagner in 2009, and to make up for the nightmares we all endured day in and day out every time the Mets’ bullpen phone rang last summer.
I think when I read this article is when it really sunk in. This Mets’ bullpen, especially with JJ Putz and K-Rod at the back end, is going to be absolutely sick. I can’t remember a set-up man/closer combo like it in Mets’ history, can you? We’ve had great closers over the years–Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, John Franco, Randy Myers, Wagner–but can you guys think of a one-two punch at the back end like this one?
Let me take this further and point out who the other closers are in our division. The Phillies have Brad Lidge, who is very good but he did have some inconsistency issues in Houston. But okay, the Phillies have a dependable closer. The Braves’ Mike Gonzalez, Marlins’ Matt Lindstrom and Nationals’ Joel Hanrahan have 58 career saves between them, four less than K-Rod had last year alone.
But here is one of my favorite stats. In his career, K-Rod has struck out 587 batters in 451 innings pitched, and Putz has 337 strikeouts in 323 innings–both more than one batter per inning. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the fact that we have guys in both the eighth and ninth innings that can just blow it past hitters. That doesn’t mean they are always going be lights out, and it doesn’t mean we don’t have holes in the lineup or in the starting rotation or even the rest of the bullpen, but I feel damn good about those two acquisitions, and I can’t wait to watch them both pitch.