|The shirt might be coming off Jonathon Niese's back if he wins on Sunday.|
Did the title to this post get your attention? It should. Because recent history shows that winning a game at home on Closing Day usually leads to a starting pitcher's exit from New York. Please allow me to expound on that statement.
The Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field following the 2008 campaign. Since then, the Mets have won three of their first four Closing Day games at their new digs. Citi Field's first Closing Day in 2009 saw Nelson Figueroa take the hill against the Houston Astros. Figueroa pitched the only complete game shutout of his nine-year career on that final Sunday, holding the Astros to four hits in the Mets' 4-0 victory. Figueroa never pitched another game for the Mets, as he was selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010.
After losing their next Closing Day game in 2010, the Mets ended the 2011 season with another complete game shutout. This time, it was Miguel Batista doing the honors, besting the Cincinnati Reds, 3-0. By the following July, Batista had been released by the Mets.
Finally, in 2012, R.A. Dickey started for the Mets in their final home game at Citi Field. Dickey made 13 Pirates walk the plank back to the dugout, striking out a baker's dozen to earn his 20th victory of the season in the Mets' 6-5 win over Pittsburgh. Dickey made one more start for the Mets in Miami (a no-decision) before being traded during the offseason to the Toronto Blue Jays.
That brings to Sunday's Closing Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers - a game in which Jonathon Niese is scheduled to start. The Mets have never won a Closing Day at Citi Field and had its starting pitcher in that game make it through the following season as a Met. And in two of those three wins, that day's starter never threw another pitch for the Mets at Citi Field.
Sure, Jonathon Niese still has three years left on his current contract, but facts are facts. Mets pitchers who win on Closing Day at Citi Field don't stick around to enjoy their end-of-season victories. In fact, the last time the Mets won a Closing Day game at home and they kept that day's winning pitcher around was in 2004, when Tom Glavine defeated the Montreal Expos, 8-1 at Shea Stadium. Of course, Glavine remained with the Mets until 2007 but the Expos didn't stick around in Montreal, moving to their new home in Washington the following season.
If only Glavine's last game had come in 2004 rather than 2007...