Pitching was one of the biggest problems for the New York Mets during the 2011 season. They will gladly welcome Johan Santana back to their starting rotation, but they will need more help than that.
The Mets will go after starting pitchers this year, but they will have a a small budget, especially if they resign Jose Reyes.
For the second straight year the Mets may need to go after a few low-risk/high-reward starters, and here are three they should consider targeting.
Zach Duke was phenomenal during his rookie season when he went 8-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, since then he has only struggled.
The Arizona Diamondbacks likely will turn down his option this winter, thus making him a free agent.
Duke has a career 4.56 ERA and was an All-Star as recently as 2009. The Mets should be able to sign him for two years and less than $10 million.
At this price, he is someone that the Mets should seriously consider.
Jeff Francis is another pitcher who had a very promising start to his career, but then encountered some struggles later on.
Francis spent most of his career at Coors Field, which can, in part, help explain his career 4.78 ERA.
It seems like the New York Mets would be a good fit for Francis, as he would slot in to the back of the Mets' rotation.
The Mets could hit a gold mine with Francis because if he regains his earlier form, he could be a solid No. 3 starter.
Joel Pineiro cost himself a decent amount of money with his poor 2011 season. This has actually brought him into the New York Mets' price range.
Pineiro would be a very interesting option for the Mets. He has great control and he has had a few very good seasons where he has posted a sub-4.00 ERA.
The Mets would not be asking much more of him that producing another one of those years.