New Bullpen, New Ballpark, New York Mets
- Updated: May 12, 2009
The boys who used to play in Shea finally figured it out it seems. Fix the back-end of your bullpen, shorten the games to accommodate an under-performing starting rotation and find yourself leading a mildly competitive . Mix all of these factors, shaken, not stirred, in a margarita shaker, along with the Mets playing in a pitcher friendly ballpark and you have a team riding a seven-game winning streak. Riding a streak of this magnitude in early May can pay huge dividends in the confidence department as the season progresses.
As of May 11, the New York Mets are a game up on the now stagnant Florida Marlins, who started the season a sparkling 11-1 but amassed six of those wins against the Washington Nationals. No cellar-type jokes needed here as those become overran by April 18 each season. The book is out on the Phils-Mets rivalry this time around as the teams split two games in Philadelphia at the beginning of this month and the Mets swept a two-game series at brand new Citi Field a nearly a week afterwards.
Because the MLB
is such a marathon, not much can be made of the first month-plus of play unless major developments take place. On the pitching rubber for the Metropolitans, the critically acclaimed and restructured bullpen has been stellar thus far, posting a 2.96 ERA in 108 innings pitched. Frankie, formerly known as K-Rod, Rodriguez has been as good as expected going 9-for-9 in save opportunities to go along with a 1.32 ERA. The only problem is the starting rotation, which has given up 81 earned runs in the first month of play.
Johan Santana, without mention, has been a Godsend once again for the Mets as he has proven time and time again that his golden left arm is no match for meager National League hitters. His 0.91 ERA leads the NL and just seeing his No. 57 on the hill gives the Mets that much of a confidence boost as they head out to the field. But as the Mets proved last season, you can’t win a pennant with just one
as the rest of the starters have come up well short in terms of posting numbers anywhere respectable.
So far, General Manager Omar Minaya’s decision to re-sign lefty Oliver Perez to a three-year $36 million dollar deal has not panned out. Four out of his five starts have been absolutely horrendous as he has walked 21 hitters in just 24 innings pitched. In comparison, Derek Lowe, who was thought to be a great fit for the Mets but signed with Atlanta instead, has been a workhorse for the Braves, posting a 3.98 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched. He also has a 4-1 record to show for it.
In defense of Perez, an MRI revealed patellar tendinitis in his right knee, which causes pain in the kneecap. The Mets have placed him on the 15-day disabled list along with demoting him to the bullpen. Once Perez returns, manager Jerry Manuel will have to determine his role in the bullpen with hopes of getting him back on track to being a key contributing starter that the Mets are paying him to be.
There are brighter areas to focus on for the Mets however as their offense has been firing on all cylinders and as of May 11, they have the highest team in the National League with a .288 mark. That might not hold up through early October, but if they can produce somewhere near there, they will give themselves a fighting chance for the postseason. Other key marks for their offense is that their lineup has struck out the least out of all the other lineups in the National League with 168. Their 27 steals lead the NL as well.
Individually, Carlos Beltran is off to a great start with an NL-leading .374 average, an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.067 to go along with his 24 runs driven in. David Wright is also contributing with 18 runs driven in and a .304 average. His 35 strikeouts however will rob him of opportunities to drive in runners, something that he is well known for, as the season progresses. Carlos Delgado seems to have found his hitting stick from the second half of last season as he is slugging at a quiet .521 clip to go along with his .298 average. His 23 RBIs are good for second-most on the team.
But as we enter the so-called “dog days of summer” if the starting pitching does not improve for the Mets, expect that stellar bullpen to get run into trouble as J.J. Putz and the gang will be forced to log innings later this month and through June that were meant for them to use in the latter stages of the pennant chase.