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NL East Update: The one where Wagner is “The Un-Natural” lefty

Now just one save away from 400, Talking Chop looks back on the amazing career of Billy Wagner.

Wagner looks to be throwing as hard as he was when he first came into the league back in 1996. I was skeptical of Atlanta’s signing of him because I thought his career was over in 2008 and didn’t think much of his comeback attempt with the Mets and Red Sox in 2009. Wagner has been a perfect fit with the Braves, his favorite childhood team. There has been much debate as to whether or not Wagner belongs in the Hall of Fame simply over the fact that he has not performed in the post-season. In his 13 career post-season games with the Astros, Mets, and Red Sox, Wagner has a 10.32 ERA by giving up 13 runs in 11.1 innings pitched. This is an interesting argument because Wagner ranks 5th all time in saves and is second to John Franco’s 424 in all time saves for left-handers. Unfortunately, I think the post-season numbers alone are enough to keep him out of the Hall of Fame for quite some time, which is understandable because success in October is really what makes you remembered. For instance, do you really think players like David Eckstein and Scott Spiezio would be remembered if it weren’t for their playoff heroics in 2002 with the Angels and 2006 with the Cardinals…probably not.

The Mets finally decided what they’re going to do with twenty-year-old Jenrry Mejia by sending him down to Double AA Binghamton to work on becoming a starting pitcher. Bobby Parnell will takeover his roster spot.

It’s about time they made up their mind about Mejia. This has been an ongoing issue all season, but through all the talks regarding what they should do with him, Mejia has performed well in his 30 games out of the bullpen sporting a 3.25 ERA and lit up the radar gun. In the end, this was the right thing to do, Mejia will be a good starter in the league and will hopefully find a way into the Mets rotation next season, pairing himself with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and Jon Niese, not a bad starting four if you ask me. The question now becomes how will Bobby Parnell perform? Appearing in 68 games in 2009, starting eight of those, he had a 5.30 ERA and occasionally hit 100 MPH on his pitches. It will be interesting to see how he handles his role with the ball club as the Mets will find themselves in the thick of the playoff race.

The Marlins continue to address their struggling bullpen by calling up RHP Alejandro Sanabia and LHP James Houser.

Sanabia and Houser will be replacing Jay Buente and Jorge Sosa, who walked in to Rays in their game on Saturday night. Sanabia has put up outstanding numbers in his 14 starts in Double-AA, he went 5-1 while posting a 2.03 ERA and allowing only 16 walks in 84+ innings pitched. The issue surrounding Sanabia, the 21 year old from Chula Vista, California, is that he has always been a starter since his arrival to professional baseball in 2006. Houser also has been used primarily as a starter. After being drafted by the Rays in 2003, he started all but four of the 125 appearances he made in the Tampa Bay system. I’m not saying these two will not perform well in their new roles, but as we all know, starting and relieving have two totally different approaches, but at this point, Florida is too desperate to worry about that now.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has made the decision to send left-hander John Lannan to Double AA, who has struggled with his control all season.

Sure Lannan hasn’t been very good this year but this move caught me a little off guard. Lannan was Washington’s Opening Day starter and now he finds himself demoted three months into the season. There is no question Lannan will get another opportunity this season. He just needs to take this opportunity to make the most of his time down in Harrisburg, rather than sulking and giving up on himself because he couldn’t get it done at the major league level. Lannan is a good pitcher so this is probably just a bump in the road for him, I am confidant there are smoother days ahead.

Phillies Nation summarizes the Phillie bullpen in a few words… “It is what it is.”

Bullpens are such a crapshoot these days, you never know what you’re going to get. Two years ago Brad Lidge was perfect in save situations, only to come out the next year blowing a career high 11 save opportunities. The same can be said for a closer like Eric Gagne, who was untouchable for two years, but unfortunately saw the wheels come off and could never retain his previous success. I’m not saying Lidge’s career is over by any means, my point is that relievers are the most difficult position in baseball to understand because of their up and down numbers. Its more about mental toughness than talent with them, making it difficult for teams to know what type of pitchers they are really going to have during the season.