When the Mets signed Jon Rauch who was coming off one of his worst seasons in his career, there may have been none that were more critical of giving him a $3.5 million dollar guaranteed contract than I was. In fact, at the time and considering how little money we had to spend, I still say it was a questionable move for a pitcher who was expeted to provide middle relief and occasional setup opportunities. But the beauty of this game is that sometimes you just get lucky.
Rauch did little to disprove my initial thoughts after chugging along to the tune of a 4.02 ERA in the first half that included a 4.50 ERA in June and an unsightly 5.56 ERA in May. Honestly, it looked like bust city for the man with the dragon tattoo. But suddenly, things started to come together for the 6 foot, 11 inch right-hander when the calendar turned to July. In 11 appearances, Rauch posted a scintillating 1.17 ERA, and as we close out the month of August his ERA now stands at 0.93 in 14 appearances which includes his perfect eight inning last night.
So far in the second half, Rauch has held batters to a .111 batting average and has allowed just two earned runs compared to fourteen in the first half. It’s been a dramatic turnaround for him, which now begs the questions of whether or not we bring him back in 2013.
Rauch will obviously look to gain more than his current $3.5 million, but with Frank Francisco already locked into a $6.5 million dollar contract for next season, it remains very questionable that Rauch will be here for a repeat performance in 2013. It’s something to think about.
Meanwhile, in recent weeks the Mets bullpen overall has seen a big improvement and in fact the pen has not allowed a run in its last five games, spanning 13.1 innings. Closer Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning yesterday for his 22nd save of the season which ranks 11th in the league. Josh Edgin has been hit or miss which is usually the case with a rookie reliever, but he has shown some flashes of brilliance. Bobby Parnell is still Bobby Parnell and despite his 100 mph heater he can be maddeningly inconsistent and oftentimes frustrating especially in high leverage situations.
The Mets still need some serious help in this bullpen and I would suspect some more revamping to take place this offseason, but for now they have been very effective so lets hope it lasts.