The apparent loss of Mets closer Billy Wagner for the remainder of the 2008 season has seemingly placed the Mets in a vulnerable position, allegedly adding weakness to an already feeble bullpen. After all statistically Wagner is one of the top closers to ever play the game, his talent in undeniable. His fiery attitude in the clubhouse has often time gotten him in hot water, whether it be with ex Philadelphia teammate pat Burrell, or earlier in the year with Carlos Delgado after Wagner indirectly accused several Mets players of evading the New York media’s unsympathetic interrogations. But how bad could it be to lose a pitcher who this season blew a plethora of consecutive morale-devastating games? Wagner has never been known as a big game, big moment closer.
He is kindred spirits with another statistical juggernaut in the saves genre, Trevor Hoffman, a closer that has rarely been in the playoffs, a closer who compiles saves at an amazing rate, but has never taking his team to the promise land. Ask Scott Brosius if in the 1998 World Series Hoffman struck fear in any one in the Yankee lineup.
In New York Billy Wagner for the most part has been better than not, but that is what is deceptive of his mediocrity, it hides under saves that are compiled with automaton fashion. Sometimes a win is more than a win, when feelings are taken into account, when the team needs it the most, when the team stages a comeback late in the game, when the team is in the middle of a losing streak, when it is against a rival, when it is the all star game and the save can result in world series home advantage (which Wagner blew). These are the saves that separate statistical anomalies like Wagner, from true big game pitchers like Mariano Rivera or J. Papelbon.
Billy Wagner could not have been trusted in a big game situation due to past performance under fire. Billy Wagner’s career playoff numbers are deplorable; he is 2-9 with a horrendous ERA above seven. This is a pitcher that buckles under the weight of the big stage. The Mets chances actually have increased to win a world series, the men left in that bullpen will have to rally themselves into believing what is true, the Mets are better taking their chances by committee or Ayala, until an answer is found. At any rate when the game is big, when the team needs it the most a roll of the dice with any other Mets pitcher is certainly than Wagner’s certain destitute in the big stage.
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