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Who’s Next? Jeff Francis?

Posted By Howard Megdal On May 25, 2012 @ 9:34 am In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

Were you satisfied with Jeremy Hefner’s premiere in the role of Mike Pelfrey replacement last night? No? Same here.

Hefner was quite hittable, as you’d expect. He only had been striking out 4.9 batters per nine innings in Triple-A. He isn’t likely to fool many MLB hitters, either.

So the quest to find someone merely adequate to pitch every fifth day continues. Chris Schwinden wasn’t the answer. Miguel Batista was the answer, once, then got hurt. A rumor that the Mets had watched Roy Oswalt remains unconfirmed or denied by the Mets, despite repeated inquiries and promises of an answer forthcoming via email. And that’s not much of a surprise; affording Oswalt wasn’t likely for the cash-strapped team. (Still, an answer either way would have been nice.)

But meanwhile, a reasonable alternative, both in terms of quality and price, could be hitting the market shortly.

Jeff Francis, the former Rockies and Royals starter, is pitching at Triple-A in the Cincinnati organization. He has a June 1 out clause if he isn’t added to the major league roster. And first-place Cincinnati doesn’t have an opening; their beat reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer said this week that he doesn’t expect Francis [1] to get the call.

So what would Francis give the Mets? In 10 starts, Francis has a 4.09 ERA at Triple-A, which seems unspectacular. But his peripherals are greater than the ERA would suggest, with 2.2 walks and 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

In 2010 and 2011, Francis gave Colorado and Kansas City a pair of reasonably decent seasons, offering just below average starting pitching. He was at 5.00 in 2010, 4.82 in 2011. If that sounds uninspiring, considering the kind of production they are getting from their fifth  starters right now, Francis sure makes a lot of sense. He made a lot of sense this winter, too, but the Mets didn’t bring in much starting pitching depth… and now we’re here, with New York having given away a number of games thanks to that fifth starter slot.

They should have another chance to get this right next week, and it shouldn’t cost much. Let’s hope they do.

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[1] he doesn’t expect Francis: https://twitter.com/johnfayman/status/205438961227796480

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