The Mets have had more big-name closers than you might think.  Here’s how Francisco Rodriguez compares to Mets closers in their initial run, using the team’s closers back to the mid 1970s.

Francisco Rodriguez had a 1-2-3 ninth inning Wednesday night to pick up his eighth save in as many chances for the Mets.  The team’s big free agent acquisition has been as good as anyone could have hoped for, with a 1.42 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.  His eight saves lead the National League and Rodriguez’ 13 games finished also tops the senior circuit.

Some people are concerned with the walks and Rodriguez is averaging 4.3 BB/9.  But his WHIP checks in at 1.026 so it is not like there are a ton of baserunners out there when he pitchers.  One night after throwing 28 pitches, Rodriguez needed 13 to retire the side in order Wednesday.  It seems like he pitches from behind in the count a lot.  However, anyone who complains about that should take a look at the production received by other Mets relievers.

In 2006, the Mets brought in Billy Wagner via free agency.  Wagner blew a save in his second game for the Mets.  Through games of May 6th in his first year for the club, Wagner already had three blown saves.  He also had seven saves and two wins.  The wins came about after Willie Randolph inserted Wagner into a tie game in the top of the ninth and the Mets rallied to win in the bottom of the inning.

Braden Looper was the choice to be the team’s closer when they signed him to a free agent contract prior to the 2004 season.  Like Wagner, Looper blew a save in his second appearance for the Mets.  Through games of May 6th in his first year with the team, Looper had four saves with two walks and 10 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.

In 1999, Armando Benitez assumed the closer’s role from John Franco in late June.  In his second appearance as closer, he lost a game in extra innings.  In his first 13 games (the same number that Rodriguez has pitched), Benitez was 1-1 with saves and a 3.46 ERA.  One thing that Benitez did have going for him was that he struck out 23 batters in 13 innings, although he also had eight walks.

Franco was brought in to be the team’s closer for the 1990 season.  Through games of May 6th, Franco was 1-0 with six saves.  He had a 1.74 ERA with three walks and nine strikeouts in 10.1 innings.

In 1988 Randy Myers was promoted to be the Mets’ closer.  He blew a save in his sixth appearance.  Through games of May 6th, Myers was 2-0 with four saves and the one blown opportunity.  He had a 1.08 ERA with one walk and seven strikeouts in 8.1 innings.

After Jesse Orosco had three losses and two blown saves in the beginning of May, Roger McDowell took over the closer’s role.  In his first 13 games, McDowell was 3-2 with six saves and two blown saves.  McDowell pitched 23.2 innings in that stretch with a 5.70 ERA with seven walks and 11 strikeouts.

At the end of April in 1983, Orosco became the team’s closer.  In his first 13 games he was 3-0 with 3 saves.  Orosco had a sparkling 0.82 ERA with seven walks and 19 strikeouts in 22 innings.

In 1980 Neil Allen began the season as the team’s closer.  He blew a save in his second appearance.  After 13 games he had an 0-3 mark with five saves and two blown saves.  He had 12 walks and 14 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.

Skip Lockwood became the team’s closer at the start of the 1976 season.  He picked up a loss in his second appearance.  In his first 13 games, Lockwood was 2-1 with seven saves.  He had nine walks and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings.

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You can see how the innings pitched for the closers with McDowell, Orosco, Allen and Lockwood were so much different than for Wagner and Rodriguez.  To go back even further in Mets history does not seem fair to closers like Bob Apodaca, Tug McGraw, Ron Taylor and others.  If nothing else their saves totals will be dwarfed by the current closers.

Basically, Rodriguez has been great.  As long as he keeps the strikeouts high and the hits low, don’t sweat the walks.

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