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Spring Training: Closer Frank Francisco and the Mets Are in a Situation to Excel

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 29, 2012

Mets Announce Frank Francisco is the Closer
Mets Announce Frank Francisco is the Closer

Frank Francisco is the New York Mets closer. 

He is looking forward with eager anticipation to his role. He has demonstrated at times that he can be a force.

"I like the challenge, the competition," Francisco said to reporters. "It's more exciting. I haven't pitched a lot in the ninth inning as a closer. But that energy that you feel in the ninth inning as closer, for me, that's the best feeling."

In 2009, Francisco had an outstanding month of April . No team scored off him over his first seven innings of work. He allowed one walk, three hits and earned a pair of saves, finishing the month with six saves, a 0.00 ERA and nine strikeouts.

He ended the season with 25 saves and 53 strikeouts in 49 and two-thirds innings.

Francisco, like his friend Mariano Rivera, has excellent control. Over his last three seasons, Francisco has 170 strikeouts and 51 walks in 152 and two-thirds inning, for about a three-to-one ratio.

For his career, Francisco stat line reads: 9.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.72 ERA

Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs wrote that Francisco's strikeouts to walks ratio bodes well for 2012.

Despite the fact that the fences will be closer to home plate in 2012, Francisco will be in a better situation than he was in both the Texas Rangers' and the Toronto Blue Jays' home fields.

The park factors for home runs in Texas were 119/114 for lefties and righties and 114/116 in Toronto compared to 90/94 at Citi Field.

A word of caution is that Francisco is prone to injury. He's averaged only about 48 innings a season. Zimmerman presented the statistics:

2011: Missed 18 games with 1 trip to the DL
2010: Missed 37 games with 1 trip to the DL
2009: Missed 39 games with 2 trips to the DL

The Mets have helped themselves by signing Francisco.  He may not be a Mariano Rivera, but he might be another Jonathan Papelbon.

At the age of 32, he is still young for a closer.  Considering the Mets' finances, they made a good move that should help them. 

Of course, it all depends on how many times the Mets have a lead going into the ninth inning.

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