Heading into June, teams across the Majors are now seriously evaluating their lineups and seeing where they need to improve.
The time has come for Mets general manager Omar Minaya to work the phones and see about possible trades. The Mets have been bitten by the injury bug, making it a little tougher, but the rotation has been healthy for the most part.
The Mets have gotten some great starts lately and it is translating into wins.
Johan Santana: 10 GS, 7-2, 1.77 ERA, 66 IP, 52 H, 20 BB, 86 K, 5 HR allowed
Santana has pitched exactly like the ace he is. He’s recently had a couple of starts that were sub-par (by his standards), but it hasn't translated into losses.
The Mets are now scoring runs behind him and Santana is more than capable of making those runs stand. He’s the Major League Baseball leader in strikeouts, third in ERA, and has been every bit the true ace the Mets have lacked since they traded David Cone in 1992.
Santana also isn’t afraid to pitch inside and handle whatever trouble comes his way (see: Kevin Youkilis). He’s a true warrior.
John Maine: 9 GS, 4-3, 4.18 ERA, 51 2/3 IP, 42 H, 30 BB, 36 K, 4 HR allowed
With only one below-average start in his past six, Maine’s stuff has really come around since the beginning of the year. The fastball is showing life, the breaking pitches have more authority, and he looks much more confident on the mound heading into June.
The only concern with Maine is that he’s still not going very deep into ball games. He has yet to pitch into the seventh inning in a start.
Some of that can be chalked up to earlier starts where the Mets wanted him to come out with his confidence high, but now is the time for him to stretch out and get into the seventh and eighth innings.
Mike Pelfrey: 8 GS, 4-1, 4.31 ERA, 48 IP, 52 H, 18 BB, 17 K, 4 HR allowed
The overall numbers look okay at best. However, his past four starts have ranged from good to great.
Pelfrey has become the victim of a lack of run support lately. In two of his last three starts, he’s gone seven innings while only yielding two earned runs, but could received no-decisions in each effort.
The Mets won both of those game late. His last start against the Red Sox was exactly what the Mets want from big Pelf: seven innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts, one walk, and plenty of ground-ball outs.
The Mets look for him to continue building on his recent success.
Livan Hernandez: 9 GS, 4-1, 4.28 ERA, 54 2/3 IP, 63 H, 14 BB, 31 K, 7 HR allowed
Hernandez was the hero of the sweep of the Washington Nationals series. The allegedly 34-year-old became the first Mets starter this season to finish what he started.
He went the distance, allowing one earned run while throwing 127 pitches. Hernandez has only had one bad start in the month of May, surrounded by four either good or fantastic outings.
Like Pelfrey and Maine, Hernandez seems to have found himself and is understanding his role on the team. The rotation is clicking on all cylinders.
Fifth Starter Du Jour:
There have only been four regular starters this year, with the fifth starting spot becoming a rotating door of arms.
Early in the season, we saw Oliver Perez melt down, followed by young Jonathon Niese getting a cup of coffee with the team. Now, it is Tim Redding filling the role.
Redding has one good start and one bad start to his credit thus far. The Boston Red Sox roughed him up in the recent series at Fenway Park, but Redding pitched very well against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.
He’ll be looking to bounce back and make himself a permanent part of the Mets rotation.
The starting pitching has been a strength of the team lately, and with all the injuries to their lineup, the Mets will need it to continue to be their foundation.
Mark Krulish is a contributor to HowBoutThemMets.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org