The New York Mets have found themselves atop the NL East after the best home stand to date in Citi Field. The team was falling apart last week, but seem to have turned things around completely. They're arguably the hottest team in baseball right now.
What are the Mets doing differently these days?
They're taking advantage of other team's mistakes. They're playing clean and smart baseball. They're getting timely hits, solid pitching, and the bullpen seems to be able to do nothing wrong.
A lot has changed since the Mets were 4-8 last week. The main change is the temperature of manager Jerry Manuel's seat. It has cooled down considerably from the red hot temperature it was sizzling at while the team was in last place.
I think for now Manuel's job is safe, but keep in mind a losing streak bringing the Mets back down to Earth can lessen his job security very quickly.
One Mets player who's job is not nearly as secure as Manuel's right now is starting pitcher John Maine.
Maine's struggles have been constant all season, the latest bad news coming in the form of muscle spasms in his non-throwing arm that caused him to leave his last start early.
I haven't pitched since little league myself, but I'm not sure how muscle spasms in your non-throwing arm cause you to leave a game. Something tells me Johan Santana would have made it through his start with a similar injury, but John Maine is not Johan Santana.
Maine's bloated ERA and constant injury woes paired with the fact that Hisanori Takahashi's huge success bailing out Maine and Oliver Perez is certainly putting some pressure on Jerry Manuel to make a move replacing Maine in the rotation.
Manuel also has the option to promote starting pitcher Dillon Gee from Triple-A. In four starts the 24 year-old Gee is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA. He's only walked three batters in 22 innings while striking out 22. A starting pitcher that doesn't walk a lot of batters would be a welcome sight on the mound for the Mets.
Oliver Perez is also struggling, but his job seems a bit more secure right now, with Manuel claiming he feels confident that Perez can "get it right".
Angel Pagan has been struggling mightily at the plate, but I think his job is safe since Fernando Martinez is battling a back injury Triple-A and Gary Matthews Jr. didn't do anything to the job away from Pagan in his limited time this season.
For now I think Manuel should take an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach to the position players. His tinkering of the line up moving Jose Reyes to the three spot seems to be paying dividends, with the Mets scoring almost a half a run more per game during the winning streak.
Of course, winning hides all, so I doubt any changes will be made (aside from Maine's inevitable departure from the rotation) until the team starts under performing again.
For now, as fans, let's just enjoy the high and hope it lasts for a long time.
Let's Go Mets!
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