Despite last night’s walk-off loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Mets bullpen has been very effective for over two months now. You would think that losing their closer Bobby Parnell to a bulging disk, would’ve been the death blow for the Mets’ pen, but in all honesty a few relievers have stepped up – and in a big way. Chief among them is the 40-year old veteran LaTroy Hawkins who along with Marlon Byrd, have been two of the best value signings of this past offseason.
The Mets’ bullpen has been virtually untouchable since the beginning of July, and Hawkins has posted a 2.19 ERA with 0.98 WHIP in 17 appearances in that span.
Initially, Collins immediately anointed David Aardsma to be the closer once Parnell became unavailable, but after a blown save and a loss in two ninth inning appearances, Aardsma was out and the Mets manager turned to Hawkins. The big-man has delivered, going 2-for-2 in save opportunities and not letting any inherited runners score or allow any run to score in four appearances this month.
For the season, the numbers don’t lie. The crafty reliever who relies mostly on a mix of offspeed stuff and a fastball that can still hit the mid-nineties consistently, has an incredible ability to spot his pitches well and boasts a 1.6 BB/9 rate. For the season, he has a 2.86 ERA and 1.272 WHIP in 50.1 innings pitched, while walking nine and striking out 37 batters.
Having saved the last two games of the Colorado series, and in dominating fashion I might add, it may be prudent for the Mets to keep turning to him as the team’s de facto closer until Parnell returns. Hawkins has closed before, saving 90 games in his career, and although he’s been used mostly as a setup man, he has finished 293 games.
Until something better comes along, which may be asking too much at this stage of the season, Hawkins seems like the Mets’ best bet as their end-game reliever.