PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Given the opportunity, Frank Francisco believes he has the stuff to be a dominant closer. The New York Mets think so, too, and will give him every chance.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen figures if the team had a shutdown ninth-inning pitcher all last year, it would have meant at least 10 more wins. With those, the Mets would have been in contention for the postseason rather than 77-win flops. Especially considering too many players failed in that role last season.
If the 32-year-old Francisco and the rest of a bullpen rebuilt through free agency pans out, the cost-cutting Mets believe they could surprise. There are backup options with closing experience, too, in fellow newcomers Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez.
Francisco had 17 saves in 21 chances last year with Toronto and had 25 saves in 2009 for Texas.
The Mets auditioned several potential closers after trading Francisco Rodriguez last July. Together, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Jason Isringhausen and Pedro Beato had 17 blown saves.
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