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Ready, Willingham, and Able

Let's take a look at Billy Wagner, shall we, and let's harken back to August 2, 2006. I pick that as the starting point because on August 1, Wagner did something he hasn't done in a long time.

He blew a save. He lost the game too, allowing a 2-run walk-off home run to Marlins outfielder Josh Willingham.

There would be full-circle payback in that Willingham was the final out of the division-clinching game. It appears as well that Wagner received a kryptonite-protecting shield, ensuring he would not be blowing any ball games in the near future.

Since that defeat, Mr. Wagner's regular-season (and yes, we're going to convienently ignore one game from the NLCS) statistics are as follows.

46 appearances
0 wins
0 losses
31 saves
0 blown saves
1.53 ERA
47 innings
41 hits
9 runs allowed
8 earned runs allowed
62 strikeouts
9 walks

Wagner has converted the tough saves. He's converted the easy ones. And most importantly, he's been angst-free. In those 31 save chances, his ERA is a paltry 0.87. In those 31 conversions, he's struck out 40 and walked 4. In 28 of those instances, he has been run-free. Not since the days of Randy Myers have we seen this kind of dominance from a Mets closer.

We like to be ahead of our time here so we thought we'd bring this up now because it appears that it is going to have significance to us in the future.

If the National League is winning next month's All-Star Game, Billy Wagner really should be pitching the 9th inning.

No Trevor Hoffman, his track record from last season earns him a DQ. Francisco Cordero shouldn't be permitted to touch the baseball either. He's a little too spotty for my liking. And thankfully, I don't think we have to worry about Armando Benitez, let's hope not anyway.

One final stat for Mr. La Russa to ponder in any future contemplations. Since Wagner allowed that walk-off home run to Willingham, he's pitched in 46 regular-season games. The win tally for those contests reads: Mets 46, Everybody Else 0.

True Mettinghams know...The last 46 regular-season games in which Billy Wagner has appeared, the Mets have won. I'll grant you that statistic can be misleading, since Wagner isn't going to be used in mop-up scenarios, but here's the proof that it's not an easy run to maintain. It's more than double the next-best such Mets showing. John Franco's 22-game run of Mets wins in 1990 ranks second all-time.

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