(Long Island, N.Y.) The 2011 season is only six games old, but there are still questions surrounding the New York Mets’ starting pitching. Maybe they are not the same ones when the team headed north from Spring Training, and only time will tell how it all turns out.
With ace Johan Santana out until at least July while recovering from shoulder surgery, Mike Pelfrey was expected to step up. But the right-hander has been completely ineffective in two starts, owing an 0-1 record and a 15.63 ERA so far. Jonathan Niese hasn’t fared much better, and the young lefty has the same record and a 6.55 ERA.
The middle of the rotation has been the most inspiring throughout the first two series of the young season. R.A. Dickey – last summer’s big surprise – pitched a gem in his first start, throwing six scoreless innings against the Florida Marlins while striking out seven and walking three.
When the Mets signed Chris Young over the winter, they were hoping to get a backend of the rotation guy and crossing their fingers that his fragile body would hold up. But he dominated the Philadelphia Phillies with his arm and bat. The team that many are picking to win it all was no match for Young, who held them to one run on five hits over five and one third innings and added three hits of his own for good measure.
Chris Capuano is the Mets’ fifth starter, but his turn was skipped due to scheduling. The former Brewer had one forgettable relief outing, surrendering a run on three hits and a walk in only two thirds of an inning.
So the Mets prepare for their home opener versus the Washington Nationals a somewhat surprising 3-3. When your number one and two starters are winless, consider yourself lucky to be at the .500 mark. But not everyone sees it that way.
“I was awful,” Pelfrey said to reporters after the 10-7 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday evening. “Any time the team scores seven runs, I’ve got to win. I was bad last week and I was even worse tonight. I let them down again.”
New manager Terry Collins needs to keep his team hanging around until Santana returns and can get himself back into the groove. Dickey and Young cannot be expected to carry the load and Pelfrey needs to settle down and get back to being the double-digit winner and making at least 30 or more starts, as he has in each of the last three seasons.
Always considered an innings eater, Pelfrey also needs to go deeper into the games he is starting as to not expose what is expected to be a mediocre at best bullpen.
As shaky as the rotation is to begin with, having to rely on a 36-year-old knuckleballer who has one true major league season taking the ball every fourth day under his belt (Dickey) and someone who has made a total of 18 starts since the 2008 campaign concluded (Young) puts even more question marks on it.