An Early Look At Frankie

By any measure, Francisco "don't call him K-Rod because that's a stupid nickname" Rodriguez has been stellar in this young season.  Just take a look at what the various pitching metrics tell us about Frankie after 5.2 IP:

tRA FIP xFIP ERA
0.30 1.08 2.96 0.00

His K/9 of 14.29 and BB/9 of 3.18 are probably unsustainable, given his past performance and the various projection systems.  He'll likely give up some homers this year too.  Nevertheless, he's been dominant and Jerry Manuel's use of Frankie in non-save situations should bring a smile to everyone's face.  We won't be hearing any of Billy Wagner's "it's hard to get pumped up for a non-save situation" nonsense this season.  The leverage index (LI) during Frankie's appearances is a quite high 2.47.  Yes it's early, and the Mets have been involved in a lot of close games, but the use of Frankie and also J.J. Putz in any close game (no matter if the Mets are ahead or behind) is fantastic.

Remember this past offseason when Frankie said his reduced velocity last year was a result of tinkering with a changeup?  I was skeptical, but maybe there's some truth to it.  Take a look at his his pitch selection, how often he's thrown each pitch and average mph over the last three seasons (via Fangraphs):

Year Fastball Slider/Curve Changeup
2007 51.3% (93.6) 39.2% (80.4) 9.5% (83.2)
2008 50.7% (91.9) 32.6% (79.5) 16.8% (84.4)
2009 36.5% (92.8) 37.5% (80.0) 26.0% (83.0)
He's gone to the off-speed stuff quite often so far, despite the strong fastball.  Also, his fastball velocity has increased while his changeup velocity decreased.  This is a good thing.  His velocity increased last year as the season went on, and if that happens again he might be the best reliever in the National League.  Of course, it's just 12 games into the season and too early to definitively conclude on much of anything.  We'll check in with Frankie as the season rambles on.
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