LaTroy Hawkins has now tossed 11.0 straight scoreless innings and is unscored upon in 22 of his last 24 games. Hawkins’ 11 saves, including last night are the most since he also had 11 in 2009. His next save will be the 100th save of his career.
Hawkins has made 69 appearances this year, second on the team behind Scott Rice who has appeared in 73 games. Amazingly, Hawkins ranks 20th all-time with 940 games pitched.
He has been one of the best and most consistent relievers all season long for the Mets, but since taking over as the team’s closer, Hawkins has been outstanding. Earlier in the week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports ranked Hawkins as one of the top free agents signings of the offseason.
Hawkins has posted some impressive numbers this season including a 3.12 FIP, 3.06 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 67.2 innings. His walk rate of 1.33 BB/9 is among the best in the league for relievers as is his 5.30 K/BB. He has a 19.1 K% and has held batters to a .289 OBP, second only to Bobby Parnell.
Last week, Andy Martino of the Daily News reported that there is mutual interest between the Mets and Hawkins returning next season.
Hawkins told me on Sunday that he wants to return. He loves playing for Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen, and wants to live with his family in Manhattan for the summer; for a variety of reasons, they were not able to do so next summer.
Once the pitcher declared his intentions, I ran this by a front office contact, and came away with a clear answer: Happy with the veteran’s performance and personality, the Mets would love to re-sign him. In a winter that is expected to involve the pursuit of high-profile free agents, Hawkins will not be the first priority, but he wants to play for the Mets, and the Mets want him.
Why, by the way, is he so effective at an advanced baseball age, able to slip into the closer role after Bobby Parnell’s season-ending surgery? On Sunday, Hawkins cited improved health. In 2011, he was recovering from shoulder surgery, and last year was slowed by a broken pinky on his right hand.
As I said at the time, I’m always skeptical about bringing back a player that is past the age of 40. But I’m more than willing to make an exception in Hawkins’ case and would be all for an encore in 2014.
In addition to his solid performance this season, the crafty righthander has assumed a much needed leadership role in the clubhouse and is looked up to by many of the younger players on the team. Bringing him back for another year wouldn’t be such a bad idea.