The Mets began the season with questions concerning all five starters in their rotation. Despite a productive season with Johan Santana’s shoulder injury they will end it the same way. There are reasons to be optimistic, such as the emergence of Jon Niese, R. A. Dickey and progress made by Mike Pelfrey.
Those are also the same reasons to be cautious.
1) JOHAN SANTANA: There are all kinds of projections on Santana’s recovery, all of the them pointless until he has the surgery. However, three surgeries in three years since signing with the Mets is a red flag. His velocity was already in decline before the injury, and by all accounts this is not an easy injury to come back from. The Mets must assume Santana’s best days are behind him and have to shop for a front end starter. It would be nice to expect a full recovery, but the Mets have long since lived on Fantasy Island when it comes to injuries.
2) MIKE PELFREY: There was significant glimpses for reason to be optimistic, but also enough to be concerned. Pelfrey is barely a .500 career pitcher, and there were times this summer when he was horrible. His last start was something to build on, but haven’t we said that a lot about Pelfrey. Pelfrey has been good roughly half the time this season. He needs to up that to 75 to 80 percent. Right now he’s a No. 2 to an ace, maybe a No. 3, but I’d be wary entering the season with him as the No. 1.
3) R.A. DICKEY: His performance warrants going into spring training with a spot in the rotation. However, look how long it took for him to have a breakthrough season. How can we adequately predict for the man with the unpredictable pitch? The Mets can’t look at this year and say he will repeat. And, if he does duplicate this year, that’s only 10 wins so far, good for a No. 4 or No. 5. He’s been good, but he’s not an anchor.
4) JON NIESE: He developed this year, but it is only one season. Who is to say he won’t have a setback or growing pains like Pelfrey? I’m glad the Mets held on to him and there’s a bright promise ahead, but there were enough glitches to indicate he’s got much more to learn.
5) DILLON GEE: He was stellar in his debut, but there wasn’t Triple-A domination to project he’ll immediately step in to produce. He’ll get another look-see tonight, but we really don’t know enough about him.
6) HISANORI TAKAHASHI: We don’t even know if he’ll be around next year. The Mets like him in the bullpen but he wants to start. He’s also a free agent. The Mets are probably right about his role in that he was vulnerable the second time through the batting order.
7) PAT MISCH: Has had some good moments, but also a few times when he’s been roughed up. Right now, he’s no better than to compete for a No. 5 spot. Don’t forget, there’s a reason why he’s spent so much time in the organization.
8) OLIVER PEREZ: He’s on the team; he’s got to be mentioned. The Mets want him gone but won’t eat his contract. Until there’s a resolution to the stalemate, there’s the possibility of playing with a man short again next year. With Santana gone and the Mets monitoring the innings count for Niese, he should get a start or two, if for no other reason than informational purposes. He’ll pitch in Mexico during the winter, but will he find it there? Doubtful.
9) JOHN MAINE: Almost forgot about him. The Mets may not even tender him, but if they do what can they reasonably expect? He’s still damaged goods and it is anybody’s guess what he’ll be, or even if he’ll pitch again.