Jul 20

Mets Chat Room; Dickey needs to pick up Mets.

Game #94 at Diamondbacks

At 6-3, Dickey has more than just filled in the gaping hole in the Mets’ rotation caused by the injuries to John Maine and Oliver Perez.

With his dancing knuckleball, he gave the Mets’ rotation a different look and was able to confound National League hitters by winning his first six decisions.

Dickey has come back to Earth record wise, losing his last three decisions, but with a little run support he could easily have three more victories.

The Mets need him again tonight in a big way. They are 1-4 in the second half, but should be 0-5. After a hot June that vaulted them back into the race, the Mets are 5-10 in July and fading.

Jun 28

Mets Chat Room: Dickey rolling for a seven.

Game #76 vs. Marlins

At the beginning of last week I wrote how important the Detroit and Minnesota series were to the streaky Mets.

They’ve been either hot or cold and a solid showing against two strong American League teams would be a positive showing, and going 4-2 has them on the cusp again of first place in the NL East. With a win tonight and Atlanta loss to Washington and rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg, the Mets can move into first place.

They’ll attempt to do it behind knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is vying tonight to become the first Mets pitcher since Steve Trachsel in 2006 to win seven straight decisions.

“It doesn’t feel surreal,’’ Dickey said. “It feels like something I’ve been capable of doing.’’

The Mets will be without Angel Pagan again tonight, who remains sidelined with a muscle spasm on his right side.

Jun 23

Mets Chat Room: Dickey goes for club record.

Game #71 vs. Tigers

When things looked bleak for the Mets about a month ago, with three of their starters out of the rotation, the Mets brought up knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from Triple-A Buffalo to make a spot start.

He hasn’t left the rotation since, and it’s not hard to imagine where the Mets would be without in 5-0 record and 2.82 ERA.

Tonight he’ll be vying to become the first Mets starter to win his first six decisions with the team, and the first Met to go 6-0 since Mike Pelfrey in 2008.

Dickey was on the ropes in his last start at Cleveland, but was able to make an in-inning adjustment to hold on for the victory.

The adjustment came at the suggestion of pitching coach Dan Warthen, who told Dickey to light a fire under the butterfly.

“I had runners on second and third and he came out and encouraged me to throw the hard one,’’ Dickey said.  “It’s about 4, 5 mph harder than my comfort-zone knuckler. It was a good step in my evolution, learning to adjust in-game.’’

It’s a risky adjustment for a knuckleballer to make because there’s always the possibility the extra push could force the pitch to spin out into a slow fat batting practice fastball.

Mar 26

March 26.10: Figueroa’s story won’t change.

As compelling as the underdog story is, there’s a reason for why he is. Just as Cornell lost last night to Kentucky because of depth of talent, that is also the limitation of Nelson Figueroa’s feel-good story.

There’s a reason why Figueroa has bounced around all these years: His talent it that of the sixth man in a five-man rotation. Every once in awhile he shows a glimmer, but overall the more he pitches the more his flaws are exposed.

Figueroa pitches today not so much as an effort to get Jerry Manuel to change his mind about the fifth spot in the rotation but as he does to audition for somebody else.

Figueroa, 35, who refers as himself as an “insurance policy,’’ has been around long enough to know the score.

“I’m in a position where I’m going out there and throwing for 29 other teams right now,’’ Figueroa said. “Being the insurance policy has its benefits. But at the same time, it’s a frustrating situation. I feel like if I’m given the opportunity to be more than that, I can be.’’

But, it won’t happen with the Mets because there’s always a faster gun, somebody who is younger, who throws harder, who is more a natural.

Actually, Figueroa got an extended look last year because of the Mets’ decimated rotation and went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA. That included losing five consecutive decisions in September,

Figueroa’s heart, grit and determination is the essence of what sport should be, but it isn’t the reality in today’s game, which is driven by the need to win immediately. Maybe in a town with less pressure, Figueroa might get a chance.

But it would be the same story with the Mets, him passing through waivers, going back to Triple-A Buffalo, and waiting for the call generated by the inevitable injury or calamity in the rotation.

Still, pitching minor league baseball for what Figueroa would make is a better job than most of us will have, earning him $119,500 if he spends the full season in the minors.

It just isn’t the job he wants.

Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.