New York Mets Closers Since 2000
There has recently been a lot of buzz surrounding the closer position for the New York Mets. From the dreadful bullpen of this past season, to years where John Franco was dominant, the 'pen out in Queens has seen some memorable...and some forgettable faces coming out of it for the top of the ninth inning. Here are the Mets closers through the years.
2000-2003: Armando Benitez
In the Mets' 2000 World Series run, Benitez was one of the dominant closers in Baseball, saving 41 games in 46 attempts. He struck out 106 batters in only 76.0 innings. In '01, he saved 43 of 46 and in '02 it was 33 of 37. Finally, although spending a short time with the Yankees, he had 21 saves for the Mets in the 2003 season.
2004-2005: Braden Looper
Braden Looper was never very successful in Flushing. He came in for the '04 season and managed to save 29 of 34, but gave up 25 home runs and only struck out 60. In '05 he was much less effective, blowing 8 saves and only striking out 27.
2006-2008: Billy Wagner
The fireballing lefty came on in 2006 and dazzled, converting 40 of 45 saves and letting up only 7 home runs. The Mets looked to be the favorites for the NL pennant that year, but were knocked off in game seven by the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, Wagner was a part of the "collapse team" of '07 and started out 2008 strong before injuring his left forearm, ultimately ending his career with the Mets.
2008 (Second Half): Aaron Heilman, Luis Ayala
Ayala was acquired from the Nationals in an attempt to help out the struggling bullpen. He was involved in a number of heartbreaking defeats, including the final game of the season in which the Florida Marlins knocked off the Mets. Heilman was an infamous name in Queens, receiving "boos" in many of his appearances. He was also the one to give up the game winning home run to Yadier Molina in that game seven.
2009-Onwards: Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Rodriguez, known as K-Rod, is the new Met closer, and he will be beginning his tenure with them at the new Citi Field. Arguably baseball's best ninth inning man, he was signed to the richest deal ever for a closer, and he has expectations to help the Mets return to the playoffs.