Could Maine Move to the Pen?

ed feverCorrespondent IApril 24, 2009

On the heels of Jerry Manuel's proclamation that the Mets starting pitching needed to show him something in their next rotation, I began to take a look at what moves he could actually make and what would make sense.

First off, let me say I think Manuel was challenging his players and not panicking in the least, and after seeing the same results since early spring training, I can't say I blame him. I'm sure since early March he has tried every possible method to get these guys to respond and nothing else has worked, so maybe as a last resort he's trying a public challenge. Back to what Manuel could do if the pitchers don't/can't respond to the latest challenge.

Tim Redding is the best candidate we have for the rotation and he's about two starts away from being ready. At his best, Redding is a No. 4 starter and that's probably being generous.

Replacing Livan Hernandez is probably the easiest action to take, but what impact will that truly have on the team in actuality? Until his last start he was the second best starter on the roster.

Oliver Perez is who he is ( the mistake was signing him over Lowe) and Ollie isn't going to be anymore consistent in the pen or if he's sent down for a month. Dan Warthen simply has to find a way to get him back to where he took him last July and if that means calling pitches from the dugout, so be it. Besides, even with options, a player over five years has to accept assignment and there's no way a Boras client is doing that, he'll take his 36MM and play for league min. elsewhere.

Mike Pelfrey has the best stuff and potential of everyone not named Santana or Rodriguez. The Mets need to decide whether he can pitch through his injuries or he should be shut down until he's absolutely 100 percent. Players are always going to ask for the ball, the organization in general needs to stop listening to them and make their own decision.

I think the player who would make the most sense being moved from the rotation into the pen, if someone has to be moved, is John Maine. Not only for the benefit of the team but also for Maine, coming off shoulder surgery I believe that Maine is experiencing shoulder fatigue which has contributed to his 7.47 ERA.

I've always thought that Maine might be better suited for the pen and now might be the perfect time to make that transition. Maine originally garnered Omar's attention when he lead the Independent league in strike outs with the Orioles AAA affiliate. His heavy, rising fastball can be a lethal strike out weapon when seen in-frequently, but when used regularly and mixed in with his off-speed pitches it becomes a foul ball machine and makes him a five inning pitcher.

His numbers this year seem to be indicative of my perception ( source of numbers Yahoo sports);

In the first 15 pitches of a game Maine has an ERA 0.00 with one hit, two strikeouts and one walk, which would be the range he's used as a reliever. From 16-30 pitches, which is where he starts to mix in more secondary pitches his ERA jumps to 6.75, so at this point in his start it appears he's probably in trouble and returns to more fastballs which results in an ERA of 4.50 from 31-45 pitches.

After 45 pitches I believe his shoulder is starting to fatigue as his ERA begins to rise dramatically. From 46- 60 pitches, his ERA is 9.00, 61-76 ERA 27.00 and 77-101 ERA 5.40. Again in a short stint when Maine sees the end of the start coming and tries to suck it up, he has an ERA 0.00 from 91-105 pitches. The one time he tried to push it into the sixth inning he recorded one out but gave up a run on a hit and a walk ( 106 or more pitches ERA 27.00).

Whether it's short or long term, I believe Maine is the best suited starter for working out of the pen and while he's not been effective in the rotation, he could be a very good reliever. Maine was willing to move into the pen last year in September and has some limited experience in the pen when he was with Baltimore. Besides, the highest Tim Redding could be expected to effectively replace someone is Maine's No. 4 spot....