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We thought starting pitching was a problem


jranieli
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http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball...0p-368540c.html

With rookies pitching in, and Pedro due back, Mets don't need starter

 

Presuming the Mets have no shot at getting Dontrelle Willis or Barry Zito at the trading deadline, maybe it is time to stop talking about the need for one more starter.

 

Suddenly this team has its own surplus of starters who are pitching so well that the Mets will have a tough decision to make when Pedro Martinez returns to the rotation.

 

And just in case anyone was ready to toss Orlando Hernandez overboard, he reminded everyone yesterday that he is still capable of brilliance. OK, the Astros are a banjo-hitting ballclub, but El Duque still was impressive in dominating them after a rough first inning, enabling the Mets to come back and win, 4-3, as the cruise to October continues.

 

Willie Randolph, a witness to Hernandez's big-game performances with the Yankees, called the outing "vintage El Duque," and said, "I just hope he stays where he is. Today he looked a lot more like what I'm used to seeing."

 

That's as close as Randolph would come to saying this was an important start for El Duque, after the righthander had been "sporadic" of late, as the manager put it. Not that El Duque was about to be yanked from the rotation, but there's no denying that Mike Pelfrey and John Maine have pitched well enough the last couple of weeks to create some intrigue.

 

Indeed, after throwing 80 pitches in the bullpen yesterday, Pedro pronounced himself ready to make a start next weekend in Atlanta, which means that there are now five spots for six starting pitchers.

 

Randolph made it clear that that Hernandez's spot is safe, and even went a step further, indicating that his reputation as a clutch postseason pitcher will weigh heavily come October.

 

"We've still got a long way to go," Randolph said. "But obviously he's proven himself in October. He's gotta be pitching well, but if he is, I would have no doubts about him in that situation."

 

For the moment, then, the Mets will decide between Maine and Pelfrey. And while Pelfrey is considered the can't-miss kid, Maine's four-hit shutout on Friday night punctuated some very solid pitching since his recall from Triple-A three weeks ago.

 

Still, Pelfrey has made people notice his potential, to the point where a veteran like Tom Glavine was endorsing him yesterday as probably a better answer than anyone the Mets are likely to get at the deadline.

 

"Obviously, if you can get a front-line guy, you do it," Glavine said. "But ... for me, personally, I'd like to see Pelfrey go out there every five days and see what he can do, because he's only going to get better.

 

"With the kind of stuff he's got, the more experience he gets, the better he's going to be. He's got a chance to be a real weapon for us."

 

In other words, the Mets don't need to make a deal for someone like Livan Hernandez. For one thing, Steve Trachsel has been a better pitcher this season, even if there is nothing glamorous about the way he works.

 

More to the point, Pelfrey, and perhaps Maine as well, might be better come October. At the very least, the two young righthanders have changed the feeling, at least in the clubhouse, that pitching help was a must for this team.

 

"The way these guys have thrown, there's no dire need right now," was the way Glavine put it. "You can argue about the need for a front-line guy who can go out and blow people away, but even if you could get somebody like that, the bottom line right now is that our starting pitching is giving us a chance to win just about every day, and that's what matters."

 

Yesterday it was El Duque, shaking off two first-inning home runs, a 3-0 deficit and some booing from some very impatient fans at Shea to post six shutout innings and give Xavier Nady the chance to be the latest in the assembly line of Mets heroes with a three-run home run.

 

So the Mets have won three straight and six of eight since the All-Star break, stretching their lead in the NL East to a whopping 13-1/2 games. They not only have survived Martinez's month-long absence, they have added to their lead without him.

 

Now they'll be getting him back when their pitching picture already looks brighter than it has all season. The bullpen, with a 3.40 ERA - second-best in the majors - continues to excel, and now the young guns have changed the feeling about the depth of the rotation.

 

Still, depth is depth, but in the end, the Mets may go only as far as Martinez takes them, so maybe it is only fitting that they get him back next weekend right around the trading deadline.

 

As Glavine said, "When we get Pedro back, it's almost like we will have made a trade to get front-line guy."

 

Maybe that's the only move they need to make.

 

Originally published on July 23, 2006

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And if one of these guys don't work out, we still have Bannister.

It is not the best starting rotation in the majors but with the experience of Pedro and Glavine, it gives our young pitchers some confiidence and it can be a major factor come playoff time.

Rotation when Pedro comes back

1. Pedro

2. Glavine

3. Trachsel

4. El Duque

5. Pelfrey

-----------------

6. Maine

7. Bannister

 

Maine and Bannister can be used in the bullpen down the road.

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I'm not all for Pelfrey staying in the rotation for the post-season. Unless he is extremely consistent in his time in the majors, I would rather him down in Double AA. He has some tailoring up to do, and he needs to develop a consistent second pitch.

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I'm not all for Pelfrey staying in the rotation for the post-season. Unless he is extremely consistent in his time in the majors, I would rather him down in Double AA. He has some tailoring up to do, and he needs to develop a consistent second pitch.

If he can keep his ERA down and stay consistent than I say he stays up. I like what I have seen from him over the last two games. Maybe it's the best for him to be sent down to work on mechanics.

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If he can keep his ERA down and stay consistent than I say he stays up. I like what I have seen from him over the last two games. Maybe it's the best for him to be sent down to work on mechanics.

 

We'll see how he does today, his last 2 starts the hitters hit the ball hard, but they were at people. He doesn't really seem to be fooling anyone out there, which is why he needs a devastating change. If he could come at someone with 96 mph fastball and an 80 mph change, he would be nasty.

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How's this for a nickname: John "Lights Out" Maine.

 

The state of Maine has the most lighthouses in the USA and with John pitching so well he is knocking people out, so hence Lights Out!

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