PHOENIX—Suddenly, a once solid Mets starting four has become a huge concern. Besides the fact they don't have a clear number five starter, they've seen Mike Pelfrey suffer through a historic meltdown.
One guy that has been Mr. Reliable is R.A. Dickey. The Mets have gotten more than they could've imagined out of a one time "spot starter." Now though, with the way Pelfrey has collapsed, Dickey must continue pitching the way he has.
Or maybe that isn't fair to ask of him. Afterall, he is a 35-year-old journeyman knuckleballer, trying to reinvent himself. Maybe, the Mets just have to trade for a starting pitching at the deadline to fortify the rotation.
Right now though, the Mets have to hope Dickey has as much left in the tank as they need. With 11 days to go until the July 31 trading deadline, the Mets are stumbling down the stretch of July.
They had an off-the-charts month of June, going 18-8. The Mets were actually playing their best baseball without most of their regulars—Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo.
Now, with the entire starting lineup back together, the Mets need to take advantage of their opportunity, especially against teams like the one they're facing in this series— Arizona—or later on Pittsburgh and Houston.
Starting last night, the Mets had 20 of their remaining 70 games left against the three bottom-feeding teams in the National League. They needed to go at least 14-6, and right now, they're already 0-1.
They have the clear pitching advantage in tonight's game, with R.A. Dickey going against rookie Barry Enright. After winning six straight Dickey starts, the Mets have lost his last four, with him losing three of them.
He was a hard-luck loser in his last start on Thursday, the first game back from the All-Star break. He went seven innings against the Giants, allowing only one run on five hits. He left after seven, trailing 1-0. The Mets would go on to lose that game, 2-0, to begin what is now a 1-4 road trip.
The Mets also blew a start in which he out-dueled the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg on July 3. In that game, he went seven, allowing two unearned runs, and Francisco Rodriguez blew the save and game.
Those things just can't happen when a Mets starter hurls those types of gems. They are in a position where every game is critical, now 5.5 games out of first place, behind the Braves in the NL East.
The Mets have now gone 10 straight games, scoring four or less runs. Even with their full lineup of starters in there last night, the Mets only scored two runs, with one coming in the ninth inning.
Now, you can relate that to being flat after Pelfrey's first inning, 51-pitch debacle, but this is becoming a trend for the Mets.
The Mets generally don't fare well against pitchers they have never seen before, and they'll face that challenge tonight.
Going for the Diamondbacks will be 24-year-old rookie right-hander Barry Enright. He has made three starts so far for Arizona, and has pitched solidly.
He has not gone more than 5.2 innings in any of those starts so far, and being the Diamondbacks bullpen is historically bad, that may be a good thing for the Mets.
With ace Dan Haren going tomorrow night, this is the game for the Mets to take. They don't want to be looking at a possible sweep at the hands of the awful Diamondbacks, as this road trip is starting to get really ugly.
R.A. Dickey this season (11 starts)
6-3, 2.63 ERA, 72 IP, 71 hits, 20 BB, 51 SO
Barry Enright this season (3 starts)
1-2, 3.45 ERA, 15.2 IP, 15 hits, 6 BB, 13 SO
2010 season series (New York vs. Arizona)
July 19: Arizona 13, New York 2
Diamondbacks lead series 1-0