I hope you all had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend. I was away, but still followed the Mets scores even though I wasn’t able to watch the games.
The last two days typified the season in that it was a blowout win followed by a blowout loss. Two opposite ends of the spectrum. Good and bad. It has been that way all season. Consistency, but in a mediocre way.
It was disappointing to see Mike Pelfrey’s performance. He’s been great for an extended period, then lousy for a time, seemed to turn it around and now has lost it again.
Of all the issues in the final weeks of the season, the question of Pelfrey is the most pressing to me. I was optimistic of a strong finish to enter the offseason on a positive note, but now I’m wondering what it’s going to take for Pelfrey to put it together for a full season. Even Jerry Manuel called him “an enigma,’’ after the game. That’s a word that has been tossed around for several years about Pelfrey.
At one time Pelfrey was 9-1 and cruising. Now he’s 13-9, sputtering and there’s nothing you can hand your hat on with him. Pelfrey, his skills and potential notwithstanding, is a career 41-40 after yesterday’s loss.
This year was supposed to be a breakout season for him. Instead, it has defined him as an average pitcher with a lot of work to do.
They’ll try to right themselves tonight in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo, who has beaten them in his last four starts. John Maine, coming off a good start against the Dodgers, will go for the Mets. Maine (1-1, 7.15) is 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. As far as trends go, this is not a good one.
The Mets’ immediate problem is offense. They have none. They were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position last night, and left runners at least on second in the sixth, seventh and 11th innings. Nobody is consistently hitting with power.
Here’s the line-up for the Mets (14-12) behind Maine:
Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RHP
NOTE: I’ve got my class tonight and won’t be back until 9. See you then.
Maine, he of the 10.38 ERA, will be making his fourth start of the year. After being hammered in his first two, Maine demonstrated improvement in his last start at St. Louis.
Maine is moving away from his dependency on off-speed pitches and more toward a reliance on his fastball as he did in 2007 and 2008. There’s also been the mechanical adjustments of a higher leg kick, different positioning of his right foot, and throwing more over the top.
In short, it’s back to Pitching 101.
“I have to get back to where I was,” Maine said. “After seven weeks of doing something I haven’t been doing, I just have to break that habit.’’
Hopefully, the adjustments will result in a spike of his velocity.
In five innings at St. Louis Maine threw 115 pitches to continue a disturbing tendency that has to stop. What kind of progress has Maine made in the past five days? If there’s little or none, how long will the Mets stay with him or will they try to get him well in the bullpen or minor leagues.
A five-inning Maine offers no help to the bullpen which was tested the past two series and didn’t always pass.
This was a concern going into the season, and after a fast start it is a concern again, especially with Ryota Iragashi going on the disabled list and Hisanori Takahashi unable to find the plate with a GPS.
We’ll may also see tonight what Jerry Manuel does with his line-up that until last night has been a vacuum in the 3-4-5 spots. David Wright and Jeff Francoeur showed snap-out-of-it signs with RBI hits, but Jason Bay is still a horror show at the plate.
Even so, the Mets have won three of their last four games, and four of six. So, does Manuel want to tinker with what has worked the last week? If the Mets were .500 instead of two games under this wouldn’t be an issue.
On one hand Manuel talks of consistency, but on the other he’s the man who can’t resist playing with the charcoal at a barbeque. A day doesn’t go by when Manuel doesn’t talk of making some move, and he still has the itch to move Jose Reyes to third.
The alternative would be the more palatable move of Bay to No. 2, something that worked in the past for Wright.
Another option would be tinkering with Ike Davis, which would be a mistake. Four games into his career he has six hits. Let’s keep him where he’s been successful instead of adding pressure. Davis said he’s on board with any move, but it’s only human nature for a player to try to do too much when he’s put into the clean-up spot.
The prudent thing would be the slight adjustment of flipping Bay and Francoeur in the 4-5 slots, and if they do mess with Davis not to go any higher than fifth.
It’s only spring training, and more to the point, it is only throwing off the mound and batting practice in spring training, but the reports so far have been good on Oliver Perez, beginning with his upbeat attitude and showing up in good shape.
Perez spent the offseason working out as a sports institute in Arizona, where he worked on his conditioning and mechanics.
It is the latter where the first spring impression has been the greatest, with Perez throwing with a consistency, from his wind-up to his arm slot to his delivery. The result has been a better command and movement on his pitches. This is also something Sandy Koufax preached to Perez during his visits to Port St. Lucie.
Perez, entering the second season of a three-year contract, is slotted third in the rotation behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. In 2007, Perez won 15 games for the Mets to give us a glimpse of what could be. The last two years he’s shown more of those glimpses, but all too often gave us the Bad Ollie.
The Mets, thinking of those positive moments, didn’t bite on rotation help this winter, instead believing in the promise of Perez and Pelfrey. So far, the Mets have been pleased with how he’s throwing, but we’ve heard that before.
Spring training is for the promise of better things, and here’s hoping Perez keeps the headscratching to a minimum this year.