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Mets Rotation: Question Marks and the Gee Factor



By Mike Silva ~ February 15th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

In Tampa the talk will be about how the Yankees have no depth at starting pitching, but if they really want to see starting pitching question marks they should take the trip to Port St. Lucie. As of today, there is only one healthy starting pitcher that has a resume of recent success. That would individual would be Mike Pelfrey. The rest of the rotation pieces – R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee, and Chris Young – either have a spotty resume, recent injury history, or not enough time in the big leagues. Add in the fact that Johan Santana might be a non-factor for a majority, if not all, of 2011 and you have a reason for concern. Although there is concern, I can see this rotation doing a fairly good job, and it might actually be more than ok if Santana can provide them a boost by the July 31st deadline.

Mike Pelfrey has a long enough resume that 12-15 wins shouldn’t be a stretch. He will have bouts of inconsistency, but he is at least a solid number three starter with #2 upside. No reason for concern here.

Yes, R.A. Dickey has only one solid season under his belt, but anyone that has spent time with him knows he is a master of his craft. I would agree with the skeptics if he was any other pitcher, but the knuckleball puts him on a different level. The Red Sox have featured Tim Wakefield in their rotation for 16 years and are no worse for the wear. Dickey has the potential to be every bit the pitcher of Wakefield’s caliber, perhaps better.

After Dickey that is where the concerns become greater. Jonathan Niese has good potential, but he is similar to how Pelfrey was in 2007-2008 in the sense he is still developing his craft. There probably will be more stretches like we saw this past September, but he showed enough this past summer that 10-12 wins might not be out of the question.

The real stretch is asking both Chris Young and Chris Capuano to stay healthy for an entire season. Young hasn’t started 30 games since 2007 and it was 2006 when Capuano last a productive member of a big league rotation. If I had to pick one to return to form Capuano might be the better bet. He pitched to a 2.91 ERA in his six September starts. Young, although he had a stingy ERA, didn’t show the type of command during his four starts in ‘10 that gives you comfort heading into spring.

Concerned how Sandy Alderson is relying on two dubious arms to fill the backend of the rotation? This is where the wild card, Dillon Gee, comes into play.

Gee doesn’t light up the radar gun or get much love on prospect ranking lists. He just goes out, competes, tosses innings, and improves. Six innings and three runs isn’t sexy, but it does count as a quality start. This is the type of pitcher I see Dillon Gee morphing into, perhaps better. A poor man’s Jon Garland is the best comparison.

Even the most optimistic analyst on the rotation has to be concerned about the depth. If more than one pitcher goes down before Santana returns you could be looking at a disaster. D.J. Carrasco has the ambition to start, but history states (5-8, 5.01) he is better suited for the bullpen. Too much Pat Misch probably is a bad thing. He belongs more in a Darren Oliver type long relief role. If you are thinking Jenrry Mejia, forget it, I just don’t see them pushing him unless he is “lights out” the International League. Dan Warthen has already set everyone up for Mejia the reliever part deux.

As for Oliver Perez, can we really take him seriously? It might come down to the team holding on to him in some capacity to 1) justify the contract and 2) have depth in the event of a disaster. Unfortunately the 6 innings/3 run benchmark might be too much for the erratic Perez.

The Mets rotation isn’t the horror show the mainstream media will make it out to be. There is little margin for error and that is never a recipe for success. Last year they were sixth in ERA (3.73) and well ahead of the league average. Of course, Johan Santana was there a majority of the season. If they stay reasonable healthy I think they could do enough to get the game into the bullpen. In order to excel they will need Santana to return at some point. Unfortunately they are relying on health and that is the big question that none of us can predict with any confidence.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Mets Rotation: Question Marks and the Gee Factor

  1. Stu B

    If K-Rod goes to Texas for Michael Young, do they bring up Mejia and try him as the closer?

  2. Ron Davis

    Stu last year people killed Omar and Jerry for keeping Mejia as a bullpen arm i was not one of them on that . But people were saying he should be a starter now people want him back in the pen lets not do a Joba Chamberlin on Mejia. give him a role and let him grow into it what ever that maybe .

  3. Jeff from Delaware

    If the Mets spent what the top 5 or 6 teams in MLB did on their starting rotations, I’d be “concerned,” just like any other dutiful consumer of pre-season blather would be expected.

    Since they didn’t, I’ll still be rooting for my Mets to do what they can with what they’ve got, and let’s see how it plays out. Hell, I owe the new regime that much, right?

    I still believe we have enough stud players on this team who not only can but WANT to do more than finish fourth to the frikkin’ florida fish.

    Thank God it’s spring, and Let’s Go Mets!

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