For all the talk about the Mets needing starting pitching, they are going through a stretch now where that seems inconceivable.
Game #63 at Orioles
After winning the first two games of their series at Baltimore behind RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi (who gave up one run in a combined 14 innings), the Mets have pitched to a major league-leading 2.31 ERA in June as they have won eight of their last ten games.
They look to complete the road sweep – it would be their first in two years, and first ever in interleague play – behind the sizzling Mike Pelfrey (8-1, 2.23 ERA), who is seeking his fifth straight victory.
The last three-game road series they swept was Sept. 1-3, 2008, at Milwaukee.
John Maine will get another chance to join the Mets’ rotation, but one has to wonder if that would be the case if Hisanori Takahashi hadn’t spit the bit his last two starts.
MAINE: Feeling better
After two strong starts, the last two have found Takahashi being mauled. In his last start against the Marlins, Takahashi hit a wall around the fifth. Even in his two strong starts, he struggled to get through six.
The Mets think he’s better out of the bullpen.
“We like Takahashi as a pitcher,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “We think we have lost something in the bullpen when he’s a starter, so that’s a scenario that could work if and when John Maine is healthy and we feel he’s ready to be part of the rotation.’’
Maine threw a simulated game last night, and if he’s pain free today will make a minor league rehab start. Then it’s back into the rotation.
It didn’t look like that would be the case last month when Manuel yanked him at Washington after throwing only five pitches. The two got into it in the dugout and Manuel pulled Maine from the rotation, insisting something was wrong. An MRI then revealed shoulder tendinitis.
There’s no question out of necessity the Mets rushed Mike Pelfrey, but it says a lot about him that he was able to learn and not let the frustrations of a 3-8 season in 2007 sabotage his development as it would with many young pitchers.
PELFREY: Goes for fifth straight win tonight.
Pelfrey appeared to find himself in 2008, but regressed last year to the point where he was mentioned in trade rumors. Pelfrey, simply, was a mess with some hideous moments, such as a three-balk afternoon in San Francisco.
He still had all the good things in his scouting report, such as a power fastball, but it was outweighed by a propensity for not being able to finish off batters or innings.
When things got tense, Pelfrey got tight and small threats mushroomed into big innings. When they unraveled for him, he was all over the place.
When he struggled this spring, some speculated he’d be better off in the minor leagues – I had that thought – but Pelfrey promised he was working on things and would be better.
I won’t say the positive feelings about the Mets in the wake of the Philly series were dashed last night, but they were tempered.
Two things were especially apparent.
The first was their inability to hit in the clutch as they did against the Phillies. They didn’t have many, but they had enough where they could have won. When the bases are loaded with no outs, you should score at least one by accident.
The second was the use of the bullpen. At 105 pitches, Johan Santana was not done. He should have at least been given the first base runner. There is also the use of Ryota Igarashi at the expense of Pedro Feliciano in the ninth. Feliciano is your most reliable reliever and proven to be able to get out right handed hitters. As long as he was in there, he should have stayed.
As long as Jerry Manuel was hell bent on going with the percentages, why didn’t he look at Igarashi’s numbers since coming off the disabled list. In three appearances, including last night, he has given up five runs on five hits for a whopping 27.00 ERA.
He might be healthy, but he’s not sharp. The only thing sharp last night was Santana, and his performance was wasted by the offense and bullpen.