Too much pitching? Who would’ve thought that would be an issue at any point for the Mets this season.
After a rough stretch, the Mets starting pitching has rounded into form over the past few days, with the team getting solid performances from each member of the rotation. With Chris Young scheduled to return from the disabled list and make his next start on Tuesday in Washington, the Mets will need to remove one current starter from the rotation (barring a six man rotation which doesn’t seem probable), which more than likely will be Dillon Gee. As much as I like what Gee has done during his two outings this season (two starts, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 3 BB and 9 K) and over the course of his seven major league starts (4-2 with a 2.22 ERA [3.99 FIP], 1.19 WHIP and a 48.5% ground ball rate), it makes the most sense to return him to Buffalo. Still, it’s worth looking at the other starters to see why Gee will receive a temporary boot from the rotation.
Chris Young: In his only two starts of the season, Young pitched very well, allowing just two earned runs on six hits and six walks in 12.1 innings with 12 strikeouts. If he can stay healthy, the tall right hander would be a shining example of Sandy Alderon’s low-risk high-reward signing tactics. Health has already proven to be an issue, although I’m sure the Mets are glad this stint on the DL was 15 days as opposed to sixty.
Chris Capuano: Capuano has made three starts this season in addition to two relief appearances: one mediocre, one bad and one very good. If Capuano had slipped up in his last start against the Houston Astros, the Mets would’ve had a strong case to move him to the bullpen and demote a reliever, such as Ryota Igarashi, and keep Gee in the rotation. That move also would’ve provided the team with another lefty in the pen, something that the Mets will probably need eventually. However, Capuano turned in a great performance against the Astros, yielding just one earned run on six hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out four and keeping Houston off-balance all night. It appears Capuano’s job is safe for now, since he has been announced as the starting pitcher for this coming Thursday’s game against the Nationals.
Mike Pelfrey: After four miserable starts, Big Pelf finally turned it around against the Arizona Diamondbacks, going seven innings and giving up one run on five hits and two walks. Odds are that Pelfrey’s spot was never in jeopardy, but the Mets have a history of sending established veteran pitchers to the minor leagues (Bobby Jones, Steve Trachsel, Oliver…well they tried with Ollie) in order to better themselves, a strategy that has paid off in the past. Given that Pelfrey showed a marked improvement in his last outing, any inkling of sending him to Buffalo was probably pushed aside.
R.A. Dickey: After a strong showing in his first start of the year, Dickey battled fingernail issues that affected his knuckleball in his next two outings. However, he rebounded nicely against the Astros, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks in eight innings of work (after giving up three runs in the second, he settled down considerably). Given the nature of the knuckleball, Dickey is bound to have some struggles here and there and was never in any danger of losing his rotation spot.
Jon Niese: Like Dickey, there weren’t any thoughts of removing Niese from the rotation either, despite his struggles. After a solid first start of the season, in which he went seven innings and allowed only two runs on four hits against the Florida Marlins, Niese struggled against the Philadelphia Philles, got snake-bitten by Troy Tulowitzki’s three run homer against the Colorado Rockies, and had trouble with his command against the Astros, walking five batters in six innings. The twenty-four year old should improve as the season goes along and return to the level of success he had early last season.
And that leaves Gee as the odd man out. Terry Collins has already said that Gee won’t be put in the bullpen, a wise move given that he needs to be remain a starter in order to continue his development as a pitcher and in case the Mets need him in this role later on. Even though Gee deserves another start, it’s nice to know he is available at triple A just in case. On a related note, something interesting to think about for later in the season is what the Mets will do with the rotation when Johan Santana is ready to return and everyone is pitching well.. Hope