The 2009 Mets Final Season Report Cards: Pitchers
Now that the smoke has cleared from this 2009 baseball season and all games are now in the books, it's a good time to objectively reflect on the regular season.
This is especially true for Mets fans, since once again, there will be no October baseball played in Queens.
Despite sweeping the final series of the season against the Houston Astros at Citi Field, even the most optimistic Mets fans would be hard pressed to call this season anything short of a disaster.
Whether it was injuries, uninspired play, or a lack of offense, the Mets went from preseason contender (remember Sports Illustrated picked them to go to the World Series), to a team that finished with only 11 more wins than the lowly Washington Nationals with a record of 70-92.
There were very few, if any, bright spots for the Amazin's this season. But to be fair, each part of the team should be objectively analyzed. With that said, here are the final grades for the major pitchers of the 2009 New York Mets.
Johan Santana: A-
2009 stats: 13-9 W/L, 3.13 ERA, 166.2 IP, 146 SO, 1.212 WHIP
Sure his number were down a bit from 2008, but Johan Santana was arguably the only Met to consistently give the team a chance to win in 2009.
Until an elbow injury ended his season in late-August (when the Mets had nothing left to play for), Santana was in the top 10 in wins, ERA, and strikeouts, on a terrible team. Of his 25 starts in 2009, Johan gave up three or fewer earned runs in 18 of those starts, five of which going for hard-luck losses. In fact, the Mets scored more than three runs in slightly more than half of Santana's starts (13 times), and were shutout in six of his starts, averaging only 3.2 runs per game for their ace. That's the least run support Santana has received in his entire career.
Santana did throw a few stinkers himself in 2009 (giving up nine runs against the Yankees), but for the most part, Santana was dominant once again. Plain and simple, Johan Santana was not the problem in 2009.
John Maine: D+
2009 stats: 7-6 W/L, 4.43 ERA, 81.1 ERA, 55 SO, 1.291 WHIP
Since his 15 win breakout season in 2006, John Maine has been in steady decline, mostly due to injuries. Originally thought to be New York's number three starter, Maine spent most of his time on the DL this season, and when he was healthy, Maine was average at best.
Maine made only 15 starts in 2009, and didn't pitch past the sixth inning until his final start of the season on October 2. He proved inconsistent, especially after returning from injury, usually following up a solid win with a terrible loss.
His on-field performance was closer to a C-, or maybe even a C, but missing so much time hurts his grade.
Mike Pellfrey: D
2009 stats: 10-12 W/L, 5.03 ERA, 184.1 IP, 107 SO, 1.514 WHIP
After a promising 2008 season where he staked his claim for the number two spot in the Mets rotation, Mike Pelfrey flat out stunk in 2009.
No excuses for Pelfrey, as he started the more games and threw more innings than any other Mets starter in 2009.
Pelfrey started out the season solid, posting four of his 10 wins in April and May, but faded after that, going 6-13 the rest of the way. His 5.03 ERA was one of four 5.00-plus ERAs on the Mets starting staff, putting Pelfrey in the same class as Oliver Perez, Livan Hernandez, and Tim Redding. That's not a good list. Maybe the worst stat for Pelfrey, however, is the fact he posted only four more strikeouts than he did earned runs, 107 to 103, respectively.
The only thing that saves Pelfrey from an F grade, is the fact that he stayed healthy this year, something not even the great Johan Santana could accomplish.
Oliver Perez: F-
2009 stats: 3-4 W/L, 6.82 ERA, 66 IP, 58 BB, 62 SO, 1.924 WHIP
While none of the three pitchers the Mets thought would be solid back-ups to Johan Santana performed well in 2009, Oliver Perez was by far the worst on the team, and arguably the worst in the entire league.
After deciding that $16 million per year was way too much to give Derek Lowe, the Mets resigned Perez for only $2 million less. How does that move look now?
Perez stuck from the get go in 2009, giving up eight earned runs in four-and-a-third innings against the Reds in his first start, and never was able to get right. Perez would be as eratic as ever, allowing as many free passes (walks plus hit-by-pitch) as strikeouts, with 62. Combine that with the 69 hits he allowed, and Perez allowed almost twice as many baserunners as innings pitched. That's flat out terrible.
Any time you can go down with a season ending injury, and your fans breathe a collective sigh of relief, you know you're having a bad season.
Nelson Figueroa: B-
2009 stats: 3-8 W/L, 4.09 ERA, 70.1 IP, 59 SO, 1.48 WHIP
Nelson Figueroa spent much of the season in long relief, making an occasional spot start, before injuries forced him into the rotation for good. The move proved to be a good one, as Figueroa pitched brilliantly down the stretch.
Since being put into the rotation on August 25th, Figueroa made eight starts to end the season. While he only went 2-6, including a string of five consecutive losses, Figueroa pitched well enough to win in all but two of those starts, the only two starts in which he gave up more than two runs.
He's never going to be a front line starter, but there is no reason Nelson Figueroa can't be a solid fourth or a very good fifth starter for the Mets in 2010. His performance down the stretch should earn him a chance next year.
Pedro Feliciano: B
2009 stats: 88 G, 3.03 ERA, 59.1 IP, 0 SV, 59 SO, 1.163 WHIP
One of the few leftovers from what may have been the worst bullpen in team history, Pedro Feliciano bounced back nicely this year from a terrible season in 2008.
He proved once again that he could carry the relief work load, setting a career high with a league leading 88 appearances in 2009.
His 3.03 ERA was solid, especially for a reliever who pitches as much as Feliciano does, and once again, he proved extremely tough on left-handed batters, as southpaws hit only .215 of of him (as opposed to .264 for righties).
It was a solid all around performance for Feliciano in 2009.
Francisco Rodriguez: C
2009 stats: 70 G, 3.71 ERA, 68 IP, 35 SV, 73 SO, 1.309 WHIP
It was basically a tale of two seasons for Frankie Rodriguez in 2009.
Prior to the All Star break, when the Mets were still in contention, K-Rod was lights out. Post All Star break, however, Rodriguez, like most of the Mets, was terrible. Look at the numbers.
Pre All Star: 41 G, 23 SV, 3 BS, 42.2 IP, 1.90 ERA, .181 BAA, 1.24 WHIP
Post All Star: 29 G, 12 SV, 4 BS, 25.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, .240 BAA, 1.42 WHIP
Closers are a strange animal, and most of them do play better when the pressure is on, a big reason why many perform better in save situations and struggle in non-save situations, but the change was night and day for K-Rod. During the second half, Rodriguez proved ineffective, and sometimes even uninterested, and while he's never experienced a season without a playoff race, it's still no excuse for stinking in the second half.
Basically, K-Rod gets two grades, an A for the first half, and an F for the second half. That averages out to a C. In other words, it was an average season for the Mets closer.
Bobby Parnell: C-
2009 stats: 68 G, 5.30 ERA, 88.1 IP, 1 SV, 74 SO, 1.664 WHIP
The numbers don't look very good for Bobby Parnell, but his stint as a starting pitcher hurt his numbers.
In eight starts, Parnell went 1-5, with a 7.93 ERA while allowing an Oliver Perez-like 59 baserunners in 36.1 innings pitched.
Parnell was much better in his relief role, however. He appeared in 60 games, finishing 14, and posting an ERA of 3.46. Solid numbers for a reliever in his first season.
Still, Parnell is being graded on his entire body of work in 2009, and his terrible stint as a starter was part of that. Overall, he gets a slightly below average grade, but Parnell showed plenty of promise to earn a bullpen spot in 2010.
Sean Green: C
2009 stats: 79 G, 4.52 ERA, 69.2 IP, 1 SV, 54 SO, 1.435 WHIP
Sean Green proved to be a solid relief pitcher for the Mets in 2009.
The 30 year-old righty finished fourth in the league in appearances with 79, forming a lefty-righty combination with Pedro Feliciano, that manager Jerry Manuel can count on almost on a daily basis, something the Mets sorely lacked in 2008.
Green also was one of the few Mets who didn't fade when the games became meaningless. His ERA dropped by more than two runs, posting a first half ERA of 5.54, compared to a second half ERA of 3.23.
Overall, Greens numbers were average, but he improved as the season progressed and proved he could pitch a lot. Green earned as spot in next season bullpen.
JJ Putz: F
2009 stats: 29 G, 5.22 ERA, 69.2 IP, 2 SV, 19 SO, 1.636 WHIP
Putz was injured most of the season, and hasn't pitched since June, but he did make almost 30 appearances, more than enough to receive a grade.
That grade is an F, as Putz proved that he couldn't make the adjustment from closer to set-up man. He allowed more than one-and-a-half baserunners per inning, and had a career worst ERA of 5.22. He was ineffective to say the least, and then he was injured for the season.
He was the relief version of Oliver Perez. That's just flat out terrible.
There were very few bright spots in the Mets pitching corps in 2009. While the bullpen was much improved, and relatively not the problem this year, many of the starters, save Johan Santana were either injured, ineffective, or both. And as baseball fans know, you can't win if you can't pitch.
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