The ace of the staff is out until at least late June, probably early July, but the Mets need someone to fill in for Johan Santana for the time being. The first question is whether or not Mike Pelfrey can do what he did the first half of last season when he went 10-2, with a 2.93 ERA. They will need him to be the ace of the staff, which we have seen him do for a short period of time.
As Pelfrey began to falter after the All-Star break last season, so did the Mets. The success of the Mets in 2011 hinges on whether Pelfrey can hold down the fort until Santana returns.
After Mike Pelfrey, there are more question marks in the rotation. The knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey had the best year of his career last year, but he will need to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Teams now have tape of him and they just might have figured out Dickey and his dancing knuckler.
Next comes Jon Niese, who was solid, but not great last year. He will need to use his cutter and big curveball more in order to improve versus righties. The southpaw is still young and might have some bumps in the road this season.
Then there are perhaps the biggest question marks in the rotation when it comes to the number four and five starters. Both Chris Young and Chris Capuano are coming off injuries. Young underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2009, and Capuano had a second Tommy John surgery in 2008. Young was an All-Star in 2007 and is a fly ball pitcher in the cavernous Citi Field. Capuano has had some good seasons in Milwaukee, and if both stay healthy, they can win some games for the Mets this season.