The precise root of the Mets problems seems to change on a daily basis, so it is safe to assume that each aspect of this Mets roster has issues that need resolving this summer.
Entering the 2010 season, the Mets rotation looked like it had the ability to hold its own. However, due to injury and poor performance, among other things, the rotation has collapsed in three spots.
There are definitely solutions for this mess out there; some can tape up the rotation temporarily, others may not prove effective for some time. Here are some roads to recovery that the rotation could look into for the late season and for 2011.
A common theme in Major League rotations in 2010 is the integration of dominant young pitching. We are seeing rookie phenoms tossing zeros on every successful team in baseball. These are guys like David Price on the Rays, Mike Leake of the Reds, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies, and even Jaime Garcia of the Cards. Each of these young pitchers has heavily contributed to the success of their team.
This Mets rotation is going to need a couple of youthful sparks, and at the moment, we are seeing Mike Pelfrey provide the Mets with just that spark and stability. But the Mets will need more and it all starts with avoiding the misuse of prospects.
I can’t say that I am fond of seeing a Mets top pitching prospect mopping up after poor relief work from the rest of his bullpen. Jenrry Mejia just might benefit from some more development in the Minor League as a starting pitcher.
There he can gain more experience, and then enter the rotation next year and dominate like some of the other powerhouse rookie starters in baseball. Mejia has 13 walks to 16 strikeouts as reliever this year. You could not convince me that this is as Major League ready as he will be.
Mejia made 40 career starts in the minors, and he posted a 1.20 WHIP over the course of three seasons in the system. It makes more sense to see Mejia hone his skills, starting in the Minor League, rather than clean the deck at the Major League level.
I also like Jon Niese on this Mets staff because he’s a young capable arm and he’s had six years of experience in the minors under his belt.
However, if he continues to be hampered by injury, and if guys like John Maine continue to habitually lie about their health, I’m terrified.
This rotation needs some durability for once. Back in 2000, the Mets had five starting pitchers, all of which pitched full seasons for the team. Their one through four starters each started 30 plus games. Bobby Jones, the fifth starter, started a rotation low of 27 games.
Right now, the Mets have worked with pitchers like Maine who has not started a full season since 2007. I’m not saying that it is easy to gauge the ability of any given player to stay healthy, but I say the Mets need to up their scouting and keep their eyes on pitchers with clean track records.
At this rate, John Maine has no business in the rotation.
The Mets need a veteran presence. I look back on that 2000 rotation again, and it consisted of some fan favorites. Al Leiter brought leadership to the table. Mike Hampton was in his prime, and the Mets got rid of him at just the right time after the season. Also, Rick Reed again demonstrated veteran leadership.
Aside from Santana, the Mets do not have any proven leaders to mentor the entire staff, and pitch well simultaneously. Santana is pretty close to that level, but even he has had injuries to fend off and poor starts to bounce back from in recent times.
The Padres signed Jon Garland in the off-season, and he is making the Mets look like idiots for not snagging him, or another experienced starting pitcher of his stature.
If the Mets brought in a guy like Garland, or looked at the free agent pool and added a starter with experience like Jarrod Washburn, there would be more definite depth into the rotation.
It is probably too late at this point, but bringing in a pitcher who has had past success, avoided the injury bug, and has spent plenty of time in the Majors might not be a bad idea to fill out the back end of the rotation.
Right now, it is hard to say what will help the Mets starting pitching immediately, but these are definitely some thoughts that they could benefit from if they are to look towards the future.