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Last year, the Mets' starting rotation was probably the only consistent force for the team. However, it has certainly had its ups and downs so far in 2011. With ace Johan Santana is expected to miss the first half of the season, everyone else knew they would have to contribute significantly if the Mets were to contend.
Mike Pelfrey was tabbed as the Opening Day starter by new manager Terry Collins during Spring Training. Pelfrey did not pitch well during Opening Day, but he seems to have recently found some success, which can hopefully continue for a while. After a 15-win season in 2010, a lot is expected out of Pelfrey in particular. If he can limit the mistakes and control his emotions on a consistent basis, the sky is the limit for his potential. His 3-3 record and 5.11 ERA may look a bit alarming, but Pelfrey struggled during most of April. However, with a stronger May so far, look for those numbers to drop. If Pelfrey can have a strong start against the Yankees, that would be a huge sign for him to return to the success he had last year. The new Yankee Stadium is a notorious hitter's park, so if Pelfrey can limit the home runs, that would be a good start for him. He is scheduled to pitch the final game of the series on Sunday May 22.
One Mets starter that potentially has even more potential than Pelfrey is the young lefty Jon Niese. Niese had a strong rookie season in 2010, even though he faltered during the final month of the season. His record this year is 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA. If Niese can become a little more consistent, he can become one of the best pitchers in the league. Unlike Pelfrey, Niese is more of a power pitcher and has the velocity to fool hitters. However, when he misses his spots, particularly to right-handed hitters, it can hurt him. Niese though will not be pitching again until next week against the Cubs.
The biggest story of Mets pitching last season was the emergence of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Dickey finished in the top 10 for ERA among National League pitchers. Despite winning his first start, Dickey has not been consistent at all this year. He is 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA. The record could be evident towards a lack of run support, but Dickey has had control issues and just had not pitched the way he did last year. He will be pitching the first game. If he can limit the home runs and show better control, it could be a sign of better starts to come.
During the past offseason, the Mets made two significant signings in Chris Young and Chris Capuano. Young pitched very well in all four of his starts until it was discovered that he had torn the anterior capsule in his shoulder, which ended his season. Capuano though has become more consistent of late with a 3-4 record and a 4.78 ERA. He will be pitching the second game of the series. If he can handle Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, that would definitely be a great sign that he may have found some consistency.
Rounding out the Mets rotation is the young Dillon Gee, who has been very impressive in his first full season. He is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA. Gee though will miss the Subway Series as his next start will be next week in Chicago.
One of the biggest question marks for the Mets going into the season was the stability of the bullpen. However, it has become of the most consistent areas for the Mets. Taylor Buccholz has been consistent in the middle relief with a 1.66 ERA, while Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato, who has recently been activated from the disabled list, has not allowed an earned run in 11 appearances.
Perhaps the most impressive Mets pitcher so far is veteran set-up man Jason Isringhausen. After not playing in the major leagues during 2010, Isringhausen has become a dependable set-up man with a 1.93 ERA in 16 appearances. The anchor of the bullpen though is closer Francisco Rodriguez, who has returned to his old dominant self. He has converted 14 saves out of 15 opportunities. His ERA is even more impressive at 0.79. Hopefully, this can continue through the rest of the season, especially because of the way his 2010 season ended.
If the Mets' pitching can be consistent this weekend, there is no reason as to why the Mets cannot beat the Yankees.