John Maine, You Had Better Be Looking Over Your Shoulder

Nicholas Pugliese@_NickPugsContributor IIIApril 18, 2010

DENVER - APRIL 13:  Starting pitcher John Maine #33 of the New York Mets delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Major League Baseball action at Coors Field on April 13, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Maine sufferedt the loss as the Rockies defeated the Mets 11-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Trying to come back from an injury plagued season, John Maine finds himself wishing he was back on the DL.  In two early season starts Maine has been smacked around to a tune of a 0-1 record with a 13.50 ERA. 

His peripherals do not look any better.  In the eight innings he has pitched he has given up 15 hits and 4 walks or over 2 base runners per inning.  On top of all that he has already given up three home runs.  Granted, he is a fly ball pitcher so the home runs are inevitable, but a 3.38 HR/9 is just insane.  Just about the only positive from his season so far is the 7 Ks.

It is one thing to just look at this stats because one could say you can write them off as it has just been two games and this is too small of a sample size, but the thing is his stuff has looked just as awful if not worse than his stats. 

His fastball is down from 92.1 mph, during his last healthy season in 2008, to 89.3 mph this year.  His top mark on the radar gun this season is 91.3 mph, almost one full mph less than his AVERAGE fastball from 2008. 

With the fastball losing so much speed and the change-up remaining the same the difference between the two offerings is now only 6 mph opposed to 8-9 mph.  The batters are now able to to clobber both pitches now as the difference is so small it isn't throwing them off balance.  It's not only his velocity, but take a look at the difference in his horizontal movement from last year to this year.



*note The article mentions 2008, but I had to use a 2009 chart because the ones from 2008 were all messed up

Maine has lost nearly three full inches in horizontal movement on his fastball, which is supposed to be his bread-and-butter pitch.  I am not going to post the graph, but he has also lost almost two inches on the vertical movement of his slider. 

When you are a fastball/slider pitcher and both pitches are coming in two-three mph slower than in the past, have lost movement, and you can not command them properly you are asking for trouble.

Who could possibly replace him? Our depth sucks!

That is what most Mets fans are saying on the Maine situation.  Sure we should take him out of the rotation, but but put who in for him.  There just so happens to be a 21st round draft pick out of the University of Texas-Arlington who is re-establishing himself also coming off an injury. 

Dillon Gee
, after pitching in just nine games last year, is off to a 2-0 start with a 0.00 ERA for AAA Buffalo.  He hasn't just won the two games, but he has been absolutely dominating.

In his first game back from the injury to start the season he threw six innings of two-hit ball vs. the SWB Yankeess throwing just 77 pitches, walking none, and striking out four.  He came back again yesterday vs. the Yankees and went seven strong, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 8 Ks while throwing just 88 pitches.

This isn't just some 40-year-old Joe Schmo dominating the minors, this is a young kid who was establishing himself as a legitimate prospect before the injury last year.  He pounds the strike zone, misses bats, and knows "how to pitch." 

If John Maine doesn't step up his game tonight against the Cardinals he could be in some serious trouble as Mets brass was excited about Gee two years ago in spring training.