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The Mets free fall has begun, a few months later than most baseball analysts expected, but the team is starting to fall on hard times now that they have traded All-Star Carlos Beltran and closer Francisco Rodriguez. The team has also lost their two best hitters this season to injuries in Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy. While Reyes is expected to return at the end of the month there is no guarantee it will stop the bleeding. The team has lost six of its last seven and the Mets now sit four games under .500.
One piece of good news that has recently unfolded was a personal milestone from a very unlikely Met. Jason Isringhausen’s career started with the Mets in a cloud of hope as a part of Generation K with Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson.
Izzy went 9-2 in his first season with the Mets with a stellar 2.81 ERA. He was immediately compared to Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver, the two best home grown Mets aces in franchise history. Of course, the bottom then fell out as injuries took their toll on all three members of Generation K. Izzy went 9-19 in his next three seasons with the Mets before getting dealt to the Oakland A’s for Billy Taylor.
Izzy was moved to the bullpen where he went on to dominate for the next eight seasons. He won a World Series, picked up a career-high 47 saves in 2004, and dismissed his legacy of being a bust. However, that wasn’t enough for the Mets 44th round pick in the 1991 draft. He had more to prove.
Izzy returned to the Mets this off-season with absolutely no idea whether he would ever even make the roster. “I had no idea… nobody knew what was going to happen,” said Isringhausen after the recent home stand. “I just try to go about my business the right way and help the team anyway I can and try to get outs when they call on me.” Izzy has certainly handled his job the right way. He has offered some wisdom for the younger pitchers and offered some brilliant work out of the bullpen while doing so. However, the big opportunity did not come until days after the All-Star break when the Mets announced they had dealt their star closer K-Rod to the Brewers.
Since that transaction, Izzy has returned to his old role of closer. In 12 appearances, Izzy has picked up two wins and seven saves. The seventh save, which took place on August 15th was the 300th of his career. It’s been an incredible ride for the soon-to-be 38-year-old hurler. He returned to where he failed and has been a pleasant surprise.
Unfortunately for Isringhausen, reality will now set in. With the Mets out of contention for a spot in the post-season, the team is looking towards the future and they will turn to flamethrower Bobby Parnell for ninth inning duties. Izzy, a true professional, has been one of Parnell’s biggest supporters even during his recent struggles. “It won’t be his last rough spot either… he’s got the stuff to do it… You can take care of the little things and the rest kind of falls in place.”
The young bust is now a wily veteran who has redeemed himself in the eyes of Mets fans. Whether he gets another save or not for the rest of his career, Isringhausen has accomplished what he set out to do. He went about his business the right way and got outs when needed. However, his lasting contribution may be the professionalism that he brought to the clubhouse and the lessons that he provided to a new a new generation of Mets hurlers. Izzy did alright as a Mets hurler.