I think at this point in the careers of John Maine, Oliver Perez, and even Mike Pelfrey, us Mets fans were hoping the trio would have solidified themselves as reliable major league starters.
Unfortunately, all they've done is solidify the fact that we still don't know how they are going to perform on a given start.
Ideally, Maine is a guy that can post ERA's around 3.00-3.50, with solid strikeout numbers, and throw 200 innings.
The truth is he has trouble missing bats and finishing off hitters. He also issues too many walks, which is especially painful when he's already got two strikes on the batter.
He failed to throw a full six innings in 12 of his 25 starts last season, and only had two starts where he threw at least seven innings.
Maine will be 28 years old this year, and should be in his prime.
I'm actually predicting an improvement for Maine. I think he'll pitch a little more like he did in 2007, and hopefully win a few more games.
But coming off shoulder surgery, and posting awful spring numbers, no one really knows what he will bring this season.
Perez is almost the same pitcher, except when he has his meltdowns, they are Chernobyl-like.
Perez always posts low hit totals and has a good fastball, just like Maine. However, he also has a problem with walks, just like Maine.
After the new coaching staff arrived last year, Perez went on a 13-game stretch where he threw at least six innings in every start. I don't know whether it was Dan Warthen's coaching, or the fact that manager Jerry Manuel allowed him to stay in games and pitch himself out of trouble.
I watched one spring appearance by Perez. His velocity seemed a bit down again, but he looked very relaxed and threw the ball well.
I don't see how anyone could predict anything better than a 4.00 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, as he'll continue to pitch inconsistently.
The Big Pelf had his "breakout" season last year. He reached the 200-inning mark and proved that he could be a horse, at times single-handedly pitching the Mets to victory, including back-to-back complete games in August.
Pelfrey can pound the upper reaches of the strike zone with his four-seam fastball, but usually relies on a very heavy sinking two-seamer.
The downside is, that's all he has.
His slider lacks the necessary movement to get strikeouts, and his change-up actually looks like it has regressed somehow, making him a predictable pitcher who relies on his fastball.
Still, Pelfrey should prove to be the Mets' clear No. 2 starter, behind Johan Santana, and a viable second pitch could make him dominant.
Santana, the best pitcher in baseball over the last five years, anchors the Mets staff.
Despite a loss of about 3-5 mph on his fastball, he still dominates. In a Santana start, you can almost bank on seven innings, seven strikeouts, and two earned runs or less.
There is no reason to think he won't continue to be the ace of the league.
The Mets will start the season with Livan Hernandez as their fifth starter, and while he may not be the best option, he's definitely not the worst.
Hernandez has no velocity left, but he'll try anything to get an out. He throws sinkers, change-ups, sliders, curves, and will vary the velocity or tilt on any pitch. He won't walk a ton of guys either, allowing him to go deep into games.
I actually think Livan will stick in the rotation longer than anyone expects. He might end up in New York all year, outperforming expectations.
Here are the scouting reports for these guys, as published at 60ft6in.com:
Johan Santana, LHP
Santana brings three excellent pitches to the mound. He has a hard fastball in the low-90s ,which he can spot on both sides of the plate. His change-up is known as one of the best pitches in the game; a soft pitch, floating, then sinking under bats as it reaches the plate.
Santana's third pitch is his slider, which gets sharp, late, sweeping action. Santana does not bother to experiment with any other offerings.
In 2007, he saw a significant jump in home runs allowed and seemed to lose a little velocity on his fastball in 2008. However, he has been the best starting pitcher in baseball over the last five seasons, and the Mets expect years of continued success from him.
*fastball(87-95), change(74-85), slider(80-87)
Mike Pelfrey, RHP
Pelfrey has been a strange case so far. He has a great arm and his fastball appears to be a good pitch. He throws moving two-seamers around 92 mph and can pump in a four-seam fastball at 95 mph.
The two-seamer really dives when it's thrown low and to his arm side.
As a top prospect in college, he was known as having a hammer of a curveball. Somewhere along the way he lost that pitch, until halfway through the 2008 season, when he started mixing a few in per game.
Thank you Dan Warthen.
Currently, Pelfrey's main breaking pitch is a below-average slider in the mid-80s, which at times gets good late movement, but most of the time appears to merely spin toward the plate. His change-up actually looked like it regressed last year, as he began to slow down his motion when he delivered it.
Pelfrey's current strategy is to pound his four-seamer in for strikes to try to get ahead, then use his two-seamer to get Ks. He mixes in his other pitches for show only.
*fastball(89-97), slider(81-88), change(80-86), curve(70-80)
John Maine, RHP
Maine changed his approach multiple times during 2008. He always uses good two-seam and four-seam fastballs to get ahead of hitters, but it's his secondary pitches that he needs to tinker with.
He went from being a fastball/slider pitcher, to a fastball/change-up pitcher, and as of last July, he was finally using his entire repertoire in the same game.
Maine's change-up tails considerably to his arm side, making it effective against both left-handers and inside to right-handers. The slider is a very tight pitch that has a tendency to lose bite when he's throwing poorly.
And finally, in his June 30 outing, Maine broke out his old curveball and kept throwing it more and more as the season wore on.
Maine's pitches are difficult to hit and all this sounds great, but he still walks too many batters and has trouble finishing hitters off.
*fastball(87-97), slider(78-89), change(81-88), curveball(75-81)
Oliver Perez, LHP
Perez's stuff always looks good, starting with a fastball around 90 mph from a three-quarter arm angle.
He varies the velocities on his breaking stuff a lot. He uses a sweeping slider between 75-81 mph to get strikouts. When thrown well, the slider will either dive towards the ankles of RHs, or break away from left-handed bats.
Perez has a very slow curveball that he started to use in 2007, dropping that pitch in to mix things up. A splitter is his off-speed offering, a good change of pace that dives under right-handed bats. He rarely uses the split-joint, but he needs to show it more often to keep hitters guessing.
Ultimately, Perez's success will always depend on his suspect command.
*fastball(87-96), slider(75-83), splitter(78-85), curve(63-71)
Livan Hernandez, RHP
Hernandez has regressed to a low-80s fastball and slurvy breaking pitches.
He starts with his fastball, a pitch that gets some sink and tail, but is very hittable. Then he will flip up multiple sliders in the 70s and a curveball that he varies considerably. The curve can be anywhere between 60-71 mph.
Hernandez's fourth pitch is a change-up that he'll show to left-handers.
He gives up tons of hits, but can pitch deep into ballgames when going well.
*fastball(82-87), slider(76-78), curve(61-71), changeup(73)