Now that Oliver Perez has been airbrushed out of the Mets team picture (no record of him even existing can be found anymore), the Mets can’t seem to lose. In fact, the last game they lost was when the erratic lefty made his last start a week ago Saturday.
Seven games and three series sweeps later, the Mets have shot to first place. The combination of quality starting pitching, timely (and a lot of) hitting and the season-long success of their bullpen, along with aggressive base running, have turned the team around.
After a rough start to the season, the rotation has straightened itself out. Starting pitchers for the Mets not named Oliver Perez have a 14-4 record this year. Johan Santana is 4-1, and his ERA is 0.91. John Maine is 3-0 and has only given up four earned runs in his last three starts. In Mike Pelfrey’s last three games, he’s also 3-0, and has allowed eight earned runs. In Livan Hernandez’s last three starts, he’s 2-0 and has only given up six earned runs.
And Jon Niese was impressive on Friday against the Pirates (I know, I know, it’s only the Pirates, but they’re in the major leagues, too, right? I think Nyjer Morgan is my new favorite player, though maybe it’s just his socks that are swaying me), going six innings, letting in only two runs (and one was scored on a rare misplayed ball by Carlos Beltran), striking out five, and walking none. The zero walks was the best sign of the night. He earned himself another start on Wednesday vs. the Braves.
Jose Reyes is starting to wake up, Carlos Beltran continues his MVP-like season, David Wright is hot, and everybody’s starting to steal bases. Omir Santos has his average up to .300 and had another big hit yesterday. They’re now scoring early, scoring late, and scoring in between. There’s now a confidence to the team that if they fall behind it’s just a matter of time before they get going and pile up some runs.
The anxious pressing is over (at least for now). Gary Sheffield, on the other hand, has his average holding steady at .186. How long is his leash? Maybe when Brian Schneider ever comes back, and if Santos is still performing, Sheffield will be the one cut loose.
Ever since Omar Minaya questioned the team’s “edge,” they’ve responded by winning. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but maybe finally talking about it and acknowledging it has helped. The starting staff is the main reason for the team’s resurgence, helped by the recent awakening of the offense, but confidence and attitude have to be thrown into the mix, too.
The Mets try to make it eight straight tonight when Santana takes on Derek Lowe. Looking back, would Lowe have been a better signing than Perez? Sure looks like it—no matter what this idiot had to say back in January.