Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 5, 2008
BASEBALL: Heilman the Fireman

Jerry Manuel confirms that he'll turn to Aaron Heilman as the closer with Billy Wagner on the DL. This makes sense to me - Duaner Sanchez just hasn't been consistent this year, and while he can be quite effective at times, I suspect it's still physical problems from his injury rehab that cause him to be erratic. Feliciano, Smith and Schoenweis are better suited to righty/lefty work. Whereas a lot of Heilman's periodic struggles (like he had this weekend) seem mental as much as physical, and the challenge of closing may help lock him in - Heilman's exactly the sort of pitcher who probably has a streak of 11 straight saves in his arm at some point in his career.

Of course, the loss of Wagner for any stretch is still a big blow and one that cascades down the line in the pen - Heilman closing means Sanchez has to be the go-to 8th inning guy, etc. Ruddy Lugo is being called up to add to the pen, which of course will be leaned on hard if Maine and/or Pedro can't get back to contributing a reliable 6-7 innings every fifth day some time soon. The upside is that if Wagner does come back at full strength, the rest may make him fresher for September and possibly October than he's been in past years.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:31 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

I agree with Crank that Heilman has the best performance history of the remaining Mets relievers, his alarmingly high walk rate this year notwithstanding. However Heilman is one of the few Mets relievers who can be trusted to pitch more than 1 inning at a time, and that's the biggest negative ripple effect here; losing high-leverage, multi-inning performances in games tied after 6 innings. Smith, Feliciano, and Schoenweis strike me as strictly platoon matchup options.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at August 5, 2008 7:39 PM

Heilman entered tonight's game to pitch the 9th with a 4 run lead against the worst offense in the National League and, true to form, walked the lead off guy on the way to giving up a 3 run bomb. He left with the pathetic sourpuss look on his face that's his default setting.

Smith and Schoenweis finished up to preserve the win.

I'm a Met fan of 25 years, a partial season holder, the whole 9 yards. I understand that Wagner's unavailable and I objectively see the argument you're making, Crank. However, as someone who's watched Heilman for going on 3 years now, I've come to the reasoned conclusion that he sucks - hard - and I can't wait until we are rid of his odious presence.

Posted by: mikeski at August 5, 2008 10:27 PM

Please, please, PLEASE let this be the end of the 'Heilman as closer' experiment. He's completely undependable.

Heilman's role should be for mop up duty in blowouts only.

The bullpen by committee in save situations has simply got to exclude Heilman - bring on Schoenweis!

Posted by: A.S. at August 6, 2008 9:56 AM
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