The New York Mets thought they had all of their late inning troubles behind them on December 8th , 2008. That’s when they signed Francisco Rodriguez to a three year deal.

Rodriguez, known throughout the league as K-Rod, joined the team after a record- setting season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

During the ’08 season, he amassed 62 saves and became the highly sought after free agent of that off season. The Mets , who had struggled with the late game facet of their bullpen, immediately and aggressively pursued him. After joining them, he has had an interesting season and a half as the Mets closer.

He accumulated 35 saves with a 3-6 record and a 3.71 ERA last season.

Not the most impressive of lines.

He was on a badly injured team, so with this in consideration, the fans decided to give him another chance. This season, he already has four blown saves in 24 chances. The rest of his line is not too bad though. He holds a 2.57 ERA with 20 saves.

He is on pace to beat his marks from last season for sure, but he is also on pace for 10 blown saves. As we reach the halfway point of his tenure here in the closer role, what was supposed to be a sure thing is becoming more of an uncertainty. When he comes in to pitch, fans get an uneasy feeling in their gut or a sharp pain in their chest.

A closer is supposed to automatic, but he has been anything but that. If he comes close to the pace of 10 blown saves, the Mets will most likely miss the playoffs. Those 10 games are the difference between contending for the division or losing out for the wild card. The Mets need to address this issue now, before he blows too many games and costs them a chance at a playoff season.

He has seemingly lost some zip on his fastball these days. Some speculate it may be due to injury or to lack of motivation, but regardless the reason, he is not the same pitcher he was.

The stats are still on pace for his averages, but something is missing. He walks too many batters at inopportune times and gives up far too many hits in key moments.

It’s almost as if the fire isn’t there, and he tries too hard to compensate for it. When that happens, he misses in the strike zone and gets burned for it.

The team has recognized that they need to address the bullpen. They have signed veteran reliever Brian Bruney to a minor league deal with the hope that he will help the club soon.

This was not the best of moves, considering he has had a feud of words with K-Rod and an ERA of 7.64. This is high, even in today’s baseball standards. It is so high in fact that he was released by the Washington Nationals earlier this season.

This is not a great choice for chemistry or performance thus far for the Mets . The problem though, is if they get a good bullpen option to set up K-Rod in the 8th ,can they trust K-Rod in the 9th ? Especially in big games?

This seems to be on the mind of the fans in general. If the team is to get to the post season, they must have confidence in their closer, and their closer must have confidence in himself in the key moments. So far, that confidence has seemingly been shaky on both sides, but it has particularly been called in question within the fan base.

This same fan base, who had heralded him with adoration only 18 months ago, now cringes when he comes in to pitch. That is a sure sign that there is little confidence in this element of the team from its’ fans. I mention fans because they are usually a good way to gauge a player’s performance overall in a season.

If a certain player excels, they will adore him. If he struggles, they will despise him. If that player is shaky or streaky, so are the fans toward him. Thus far, this season, the fan response has been generally mixed for the most part. That is a prime example of the overall performance from K-Rod this season.

He has been good and bad, just as the loyalties of the fans toward him have been. His streakiness must not go unnoticed, however. The fans are giving them signs to go by. They are telling the Mets that he has issues, and there is a reason to question him. The team needs to address his issues and be honest about recognizing that he has an issue. Otherwise, it will be an even longer next 18 months.


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