Manager: Daisuke Matsuzaka Could Become Mets’ Closer This Season

Daisuke MatsuzakaLet’s face it: Daisuke Matsuzaka’s days as a top-flight major league starter are over. The former All-Star could still make an impact in a different role, though, according to his manager.

New York Mets skipper Terry Collins told reporters Wednesday that Matsuzaka is a candidate to become the Mets’ closer this season.

“No question about it,” Collins said.

Matsuzaka’s conversion to the bullpen is still in its infancy — just four of his 127 career appearances have come in relief — and he is not expected to be asked to close games any time soon. Collins said the team is being cautious as the right-hander adjusts to his new role.

“We gotta be careful,” Collins said. “We’re talking about two different cultures how to deal with pitchers. We’ll monitor him and he’ll have nights off that he knows he can pitch. We still want to make sure he’s still there in the middle of the summer, too.”

Matsuzaka, whose last full season in the majors came in 2010, has made three relief appearances for the Mets this season, allowing a run on two hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings.

With projected top closer Bobby Parnell lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, New York’s closing duties have fallen to 38-year-old Kyle Farnsworth. The veteran right-hander has allowed a total of two runs on two hits and two walks in 11 appearances thus far in his first season in Queens.