Isn’t it always the way with the New York Mets? There’s positives brewing, but something always seems to get in the way, such as Bobby Parnell’s bulging disk.
Once pegged to lose 100 games, the Mets are talking about .500 and finishing in second place in the NL East, but gone is Parnell, probably for the year if surgery is required.
The Mets’ bullpen has been stellar since the beginning of July, but there’s only one real choice to replace Parnell and that would be 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins instead of going with a bullpen-by-committee, which rarely works and usually ends up using guys outside of their customary roles.
Hawkins saved the last two games of the Colorado series, and has 90 saves in his career. Not great over 19 years, but it is the best the Mets have going for them right now.
Hawkins struggled early in the season, but has been consistently effective. He has experience pitching in tight games, and Terry Collins has more trust in him than in Scott Atchison or Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano.
Even at 40, Hawkins was throwing in the mid-90s against the Rockies. He can still bring it when he has to, and averages 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and only 1.6 walks per nine innings.
Perhaps Hawkins will eventually run on fumes, but if the Mets are cognizant about not getting him up constantly, and perhaps occasionally let their set-up reliever work into the ninth if there’s a three-run lead, it could preserve him.
Collins’ bullpen has been exceptional over the past month, but now he must make a significant choice: Does he go the committee route or give his trust to Hawkins?
Hawkins has pitched well and is deserving of closing until he can’t it anymore.
I don’t think there’s any doubt Hawkins has to be the closer until Parnell returns, which as of now looks to be next spring.
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