On Tuesday, the Mets added right-handers Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Ramon Ramirez via trade or free agency to their bullpen. Francisco looks to be the default closer out of the 3. The following is a quick look at how the bullpen probably will shake out.
First, here are the career stats for each pitcher:
Francisco: 9.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.72 ERA
Ramirez: 7.7, K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.16 ERA
Rauch: 7.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.82 ERA
Reports out of New York peg Francisco as the Mets closer and I can see why. I like any reliever in fantasy baseball to have a K/BB rate of 3 and Francisco almost fits the bill. He has just about reached that level in each the past 4 seasons (3.2, 3.8, 3.3, and 2.9). Both his K/9 (10.4 to 9.4) and BB/9 (2.7 to 3.2) have gotten worse though over the past 3 years. Even with the decline, he is still a decent reliever.
One huge red flag for Francisco is that he has problems staying on the mound. Here is a look at the time he has missed over the last few years.
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
If he is given the closer role, his backup has a good chance of accumulating a few saves.
Ramirez looks, for now, to be Francisco’s set up man. He is a capable replacement. He has allowed a half an earned run less than Francisco over their careers. Also, he walks less batters and keeps the ball in the park more. He will fill in as the closer nicely if Francisco can’t get the job done or has to go on the DL.
Rauch has been able to get a few saves over the last 4 seasons (18, 2, 21, 11). Some how he has been able to convince managers that he can close, even though he is not close to being the ideal closer candidate. Of the 3, he gives up the most HRs and strikeouts the least number of batters. He has middle reliever written all over him and should battle with Bobby Parnell for the 7th inning guy.
The big question for 2012 is which of these players are own-able? The designated closer for any team should be owned in all leagues. Saves are saves. In deeper leagues, both Francisco and Ramirez should be owned no matter which is closing. Francisco will head to the DL at some point and Ramirez will get some Saves. If Ramirez is closing, Francisco should be able to help a team’s K and rate stats enough while waiting for the closer role to possibly open up. There is little if any reason to own Rauch, or Parnell for that matter, unless both Francisco and Ramirez are struggling and/or hurt.