Frank Francisco completely lost his composure

In the ninth inning of yesterday’s 8-4 loss to the Marlins, Frank Francisco allowed three runs on two hits with one walk while not retiring a batter.

Upon being removed from the game, Francisco was ejected by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor for arguing balls and strikes.

“I asked him where were those pitches,” Francisco told reporters after the game. “He didn’t say anything. I expected him to say something, probably low, away, or something – give me a reason. Nothing. I was asking a simple question. … I threw one a little high. He didn’t call one at the knee. I threw a straight fastball right there. He didn’t call anything. And then I went a little higher. He didn’t call the high one.”

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Francisco blew two saves and took the loss in two of the three games in Miami, and saw his ERA rise from 5.54 to 8.56 after allowing five runs in only 2/3 of an inning combined.

Collins would not say if Francisco was going to lose his job as closer but hinted a change could be made shortly, saying “I’m not going to address [the closer role] right now. The emotions are running a little high tonight. It’s just not a very good time to make a decision.”

Meanwhile, Francisco would accept a demotion in the bullpen should Collins make such a decision, telling reporters “I’m here to help the team and I guess I’m not doing that. Whatever decision he makes is fine with me.”

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Michael Baron: It’s one thing to pitch poorly and lose, but it’s totally another to lose composure and focus, which is exactly what happened to Francisco yesterday. Yes, he might have had a beef on a couple of calls with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, but a) it’s always a pitcher’s job to adjust to the home plate umpire’s strike zone, b) he still threw ineffective strikes with very little movement on his fastball, and c) he ultimately pitched himself into that mess, regardless of how the balls and strikes were called.

Even if it’s only temporary, Collins needs to make a change right now, and it sounds as though Collins is mulling his options. I mean, Francisco has been more or less ineffective from day one – he needs to clear his head and get back to being successful in a less pressurized role. Some combination of Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell might work in the short term but, as I’ve said before, there remains a need for a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen – especially if Collins were to use a closer-by-committee.