The pitchers face each other tonight in Atlanta as the second half of the season begins. My confidence level in Perez is about zero. There’s just something about him that screams bust.
The Mets are within striking distance in the NL East. Teams have come back from a lot greater holes in far less time. The Mets know that from blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play in 2007. It has been done, but rarely by a team with as many glaring deficiencies as these Mets.
1. Perez is only one of three major concerns in the rotation. There’s John Maine’s shoulder, which nobody really knows will be ready. Plus, Livan Hernandez has been hit hard lately, so the bloom is off his fast start.
2. Don’t expect Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran back before the end of the month. Carlos Delgado will be back sometime in August, but by that time the competitive part of the season might be ove.
3. The bullpen started off so well, but has been worn down by the workload. Sean Green and Bobby Parnell have run hot-and-cold. Pedro Feliciano is being run into the ground and JJ Putz is on the DL. The way things are going, Billy Wagner, if he returns, won’t be a luxury but a necessity.
4. There’s been little consistent power production. It’s hard to believe Gary Sheffield leads the team in homers. Jeff Francoeur might add something, but the hitter they really need is Wright to step up.
5. The farm system is barren as we’ve frequently heard before. There are few major-league ready players to come up to help the Mets, which also means there are limited trade options. The Mets will not make a blockbuster kind of deal at the trade deadline.
Here’s the line-up that will take a crack at Derek Lowe:
Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Alex Cora, SS
Brian Schneider, C
Oliver Perez, LP
Perez (2-2, 8.78 ERA) will make his second start for the Mets since coming off the disabled list. Perez earned the victory against the Dodgers, but threw only five innings and gave up seven walks. Perez had no record against the Braves last year, but had a 3.72 ERA in 19 1/3 innings against them.