NEW YORK -- The most dangerous job this side of drumming for Spinal Tap -- closing for the New York Mets -- is once again up for grabs.
The most recent pitcher to serve as the Mets' closer, Kyle Farnsworth, suffered the baseball version of spontaneously self-combusting Wednesday when he was outrighted immediately after the Mets fell to the New York Yankees at Citi Field. Farnsworth had three saves in four opportunities, though he allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk in those appearances.
Farnsworth joins right-handers Bobby Parnell and Jose Valverde in the Mets' pile of discarded closers. Parnell blew out his elbow on Opening Day and underwent Tommy John surgery on April 8. Valverde converted his first two save chances before opening the door for Farnsworth by giving up eight runs (five earned) over a three-appearance stretch from April 12-19.
The next candidate to bravely step behind the drums, err, on the mound in a save situation for the Mets? That probably will be right-hander Jenrry Mejia, who was in the rotation a week ago but would have received the ball if the Mets had a lead to protect after eight innings Thursday, when they lost the Subway Series finale to the Yankees, 1-0.
Mejia's fastball-slider combination and struggles against batters the second and third time in a game -- in seven starts this season, he limited opposing batters to a .193 average the first time through the order before getting hit to the tune of a .311 average thereafter -- have the Mets believing he can thrive in short relief.
Mejia did pitch a scoreless ninth Thursday, which is an important first step in his path to becoming the closer. Mets manager Terry Collins said Thursday afternoon that he wouldn't hand the closer job to Mejia -- who hadn't pitched in relief since 2010, a year before he underwent Tommy John surgery -- until the 24-year-old proves he can handle pitching two or three days in a row.
"If we felt he was ready to go back-to-back days, possibly three days in a row, he would be the guy," Collins said. "But he is not at that stage."
However, whether it is Mejia or somebody else, Collins wants to put an end to the Mets' closer woes and find a reliable ninth-inning option so that the team can try to establish some much-needed certainty in the bullpen.
"We've talked so much about the game today and the importance of knowing your role when you come to the ballpark, when you're going to pitch," Collins said. "Those guys like to walk into the ballpark knowing exactly where they fit. And right now we don't (have that). I can't tell them that. I don't have those plans."