Comparing Frank Francisco's Start With Past Mets Closers

Frankie Frank.

With all of the talk over the past couple of days about the Mets' mostly-homegrown starting lineup, it's been a very long time since the team began a season with a homegrown player as its closer. Frank Francisco is the latest in a line of pitchers who were either acquired via trade or free agency to finish games for the Mets.

Francisco looked downright awful in spring training. Shortly before Opening Day, however, he said his velocity would be just fine and his success was heavily dependent upon scouting reports that don't exist in spring games. Three games don't make a good season, but Francisco has backed up his words so far.

Game IP K BB R SV/BS
1 1.0 1 0 0 SV
2 1.0 2 0 0 SV
3 1.0 1 0 0 SV
Total 3.0 4 0 0 3 SV

In three appearances, he has been nearly perfect. Let's have a look at how his hot start compares to those of the Mets' past few closers.

Francisco Rodriguez

Game IP K BB R Save
1 1.0 1 0 0 SV
2 1.0 1 2 0 SV
3 0.2 1 0 0 -
Total 2.2 3 2 0 2 SV

Rodriguez joined the Mets for the 2009 season, and his first three appearances were decent. By the end of his time with the Mets, his walk rate had improved, but it was pretty ugly in the first year. His pair of walks in only 2.2 innings pitched to begin the year were a preview of things to come.

Billy Wagner

Game IP K BB R Save
1 1.0 1 0 0 SV
2 1.0 0 0 1 BS
3 1.0 0 1 0 -
Total 3.0 1 1 1 1 SV, 1 BS

Wagner got off to a rough start, but he was excellent throughout the 2006 season, at least until the playoffs. He allowed 5 runs in 2.2 innings of work in the NLCS without striking out anyone. Why everyone wasn't blaming Wagner all these years is still beyond me.

Braden Looper

Game IP K BB R Save
1 1.0 0 0 0 -
2 1.2 1 1 0 BS
3 1.0 2 0 0 SV
Total 3.2 3 1 0 1 SV, 1 BS

Looper's start was neither great nor awful. He wasn't liked by Mets fans, but he wasn't bad in 2004, his first year with the Mets. He posted a 2.70 ERA and overcame a weak 6.5 K/9 with a great 1.7 BB/9. All three numbers got significantly worse the following year, though. It's easy to forget that the Mets had a very real shot at the wild card as late as the end of August in 2005.

Armando Benitez

Game IP K BB R Save
1 0.2 1 0 0 -
2 2.0 4 1 0 -
3 1.0 2 0 0 -
Total 3.2 7 1 0 -

Benitez joined the Mets in 1999, and his first three appearances came as a setup man for John Franco. By the end of his Mets' tenure, seemingly everyone wanted him gone. He gave Mets fans plenty of stress throughout his years with the team, striking out and walking a ton of opponents.

***

The first three games of any season don't determine anything in the long run, but Francisco's three-game dominance to begin his Mets career is unlike anything the team has seen in recent years.

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