On Pace: Pitchers
Ah, now to the pitching. What was once extremely deep in the starting arena is now frightening thin and a lot needs to pan out for this team to be successful while the bullpen is just straight nasty serving up Cream of Whoop-ass (sorry, stole that from BP's hitlist) nightly. The entire argument about what to do with the pitching has been tossed around and a lot of people say it is too early, but let's get this straight, it's never too early to start looking at things. If the Mets cool spell has taught us anything, it is that every game counts.
Oh, what's there to say about him? The guy is on pace for a 32-0 year with 227 strikeouts to 81 walks and only 122 hits allowed. Best season ever? Not likely. Despite the unlikelihood of a 30+ win season, it amazes me that he has only won 20 games twice in his career. That is something that I fully expect to change and I expect him to notch 20 wins this season with the improved offense and the vastly improved bullpen. The thing about Pedro that is such a joy to watch, and this includes last season, is the guy will come to the mound with 80% of his best stuff and just dominate. Who else can say that? Guys like him and Clemens reinvent themselves and watching a guy like Pedro do what he does best and throw a baseball is simply what this game is about. Met fans have a treat every five games when he is on the mound and he define what an ace should be.
Tom got rocked for six runs in six innings against the Giants on Monday and still has a 2.78 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. What really has been shocking is the amount of strikeouts he has amassed so far. Glavine has not struck out more than 150 batters in a season since 2000 and has not topped 109 since putting on a Met uniform. Those 109 strikeouts took him 33 games to achieve and he already has 28% of that number in only 32.1 innings. Glavine is pace for 198 strikeouts, which would be a personal record for him, 73 walks, 178 hits allowed, and 13 wins. The way Glavine has looked this year and the second half of last year tells me 13 wins is a bit conservative and 2006 will be the year he notches highs in wins and strikeouts as a Met. Tom has looked tremendous and has been the front end starter the Mets have needed to compliment Pedro.
Traschsel was a year older and coming off a back injury last year so he was a bit of a concern for me this year. However, Trachsel has done nothing but be vintage Trachsel when he was the most reliable arm in the Mets rotation from 2002 through 2004. He will not dazzle you, but he will give you innings and keep you in the game. So far, he is on pace for 177 innings, 162 hits allowed, 46 walks, 116 strikeouts, and 16 wins. I expect him to finish with about 200 innings pitched and about 13 wins and be vintage Trachsel for his final year with the Mets and he will be a nice affordable starter for someone in 2007. Hey, maybe even the Mets will finally be able to offer a free agent arbitration?
Bannister is a guy who a lot of people had said looks like the real deal, but there are some who still think he is running on borrowed time with the amount of walks and base runners he has been allowing. Bannister is on pace to walk 122 batters and allow 122 hits while going 16-0 with 186 innings pitched. His WHIP is a respectable 1.30, but Brian simply cannot succeed walking so many. The main reason he has a 2.35 ERA so far is the fact that he has knack for getting out of trouble and has held the opposition to a Pedro Martinez-like .181 BAA. Bannister's minor league h/9 ratio was 8.16 and his ratio so far this season is 5.87. We know that he will most likely give more hits up down the line and we know is control was light years better in the minors than in the majors so I do believe the trust does lie somewhere in between for both cases. Bannister should give up more hits, but he should also cut down on his walks but where his control went is anyone's guess. Rookie jitters has to wear out it's welcome as an excuse at some point and the Mets need Bannister to tighten up and go deeper into games and throw more strikes.
It's not pretty for Zambrano which is obvious considering the rocky start to his season. Victor is on pace for 144.2 innings, 207 hits allowed, 52 homers allowed, 93 walks, 83 strikeouts, 10 wins, and 20 losses. He owns a .328 BAA and a 9.64 ERA and has thrown 84.3 pitches per game. Of course he had a bad April in '05 before straightening things out and my guess is his leash at least gets him that and May to see if he can put it together. I'm not going to get too much into Victor as he has been a hot topic of late, but instead, I'll delve into something that speaks louder than anything I could say.
Funny thing happened today, i was on the phone with my mother and she said to me "all week i haven't been able to watch the games because they've been on late, and i go to watch today and this guy is pitching, its just not fair". When my mom makes a comment about VZ then you know its gotten bad.
That was an email from Brian B. and he touched upon that while we were talking about something else and yes, when a person's mother comments on VZ then it has gotten bad.
Heilman got off to a rocky start and then had some help from Sanchez, but he has not disappointed. The guy came into Spring Training thinking he was going to be starter after the Benson deal only to lose his rotation spot to a rookie and has handled all of it well. While he has not been as dominating as he was in the second half of last year (...and really, how could anyone be and how could we expect him to) he is on pace to throw in 81 games, allow 86 hits, 32 walks, and 73 strikeouts. His strikeouts are down a bit and his walks are little higher than we all would prefer, but he has yet to give up a homerun and has gotten stronger as the season has gone on. Lefties are having more success against him this season and they are batting .278 off him with a .381 OBP, but I think that will settle down as time wears on. He will be a rock in the bullpen and I do not think these projected numbers are very far off of what we can expect at the end of the season.
Julio is on pace for some very interesting numbers to say the least. He is on pace to appear in 73 games, give up 105 hits, 24 homeruns, 32 walks, and strikeout 138 batters. Julio is bad, but not this bad. His career G/F ratio is 1.04 and this season he is looking at a 2.29 G/F ratio. His walks are high, but right in line with his career numbers and his 15.83 K/9 will not last. His BAA will settle down a bit, but he has been a guy that has given up his share of hits throughout his career. In short, Julio will settle down, but I doubt he'll be used in tight situations if it can be avoided and he'll mostly see junk time and appearances in extra innings games.
What is amazing about Wagner is he has not even looked like the nasty Wagner that we signed. Billy had missed two weeks at the end of spring training and was throwing in the low 90's to start the season and has walked entirely too many batters. That being said, he still has posted the second lowest ERA out of the bullpen outside of the impressive Duaner Sanchez. His heat has progressively been getting higher and he is almost running on all cylinders. Wagner is on pace for 73 appearances, 81 innings pitched, a ridiculous 24 hits allowed, 40 walks, 64 strikeouts, eight wins, and 40 saves. Hopefully the hits and strikeouts will rise while the walks come down, but Wagner is as advertised and will only get nastier.
If you make enough deals, one has to work out right? Oh, relax, I'm just kidding...partly. The Mets rarely come out smelling like roses in trades and this dates back to before Omar's time, but the early returns on this one look criminal. Sanchez is on pace to appear in 73 games with 114 innings pitched, 49 hits allowed, 49 walks allowed, 97 strikeouts, and eight wins. The guy wants the ball everyday and is not shy about making that known.
Overall the pitching results have been a mixed bag. By my estimation, the Mets rotation was weakened by moving Heilman to the bullpen and has some potentially huge gaping issues. Overall, the starting pitchers are 11-5 with a 7.11 K/9, a 1.25 WHIP, and a 3.63 ERA. That is really nothing to complain about and every starter with the exception of Victor Zambrano has an ERA of 3.13 or below. If the top four can continue being solid starters, Zambrano's inclusion in the rotation will be more palatable, however, if he does not improve, the Mets can ill afford to give games away. This is the biggest potential issue with the Mets that certainly deserves the most attention.
The rotation was made weaker, but it is hard to argue with the results produced in the bullpen. The bullpen has put up a 9.70 K/9, a 1.16 WHIP, and a 2.53 ERA and has been outstanding. Only Jorge Julio has an ERA over 3.52 and strangely enough, the top three strikeout artists for the Mets have been Bradford, Oliver, and Julio with 13.50, 10.57, and 15.83 K/9 respectively. Julio has looked better of late and if he can put up 4.00 ERA from here on out and be serviceable, he should find some usefulness on this team. Regardless of how Julio pans out, this bullpen is probably the best in the National League.
"I'm out there to get him out," Wagner said. "I'm not out there to be a stat for him. We're competitors and we respect what each other brings to the table."
"My favorite player growing up was Cal Ripken Jr.," Wright said. "To play that many consecutive games, he played hurt a lot. I loved that about him. You know he wasn't going out there at 100 percent and I'm sure his numbers were hurt by that. But that's the kind of guy I want on my team. That's the kind of guy I want to go to battle with, the kind of guy that wants to be out there every day."
We all know he has been hurting, but we all have to wonder if there was another message being sent.
"I have a lot of respect for guys who go out there and play hurt, that's what makes team chemistry, when guys go out there and put their bodies on the line."
Of course, Beltran is the only one who truly knows how he feels.
"Its frustrating for me right now because the MRI shows that it's nothing major. But I still feel it," the center fielder said.
"They want me to give them an estimate of how many days I'm going to be ready. I cannot give an estimate because this is the first time it happened to me. I'm just taking it day by day and looking forward to one of these days wake up with no pain, no soreness and be able to play."
We all know he had a very bad experience last season so it is not like no one knows where he is coming from, but to string the team along for this long is just silly. You cannot be day to day for the duration of a DL stint. That is just ridiculous. DL it or play in a weak. The DL is there for a reason. Use it.
"He moved himself up," Omar Minaya said. "He's had pretty good performances all along. We said basically he would move himself up based upon the way he's pitched, velocity wise, command wise, strikeout to walk ratio wise, which is about what we expected. We expected it to be about a month. We just said let's move him up right now."
Trachsel confronted Bonds, striking him out on a 1-2 splitter off the outer half of the plate in their matchup after the homer. Bonds is now hitting .302 with three homers, 13 walks and eight strikeouts in 56 lifetime plate appearances against Trachsel.
"I was more worried about Moises Alou personally just because of past experience," Trachsel said. "They're both dangerous but I think Alou has done a lot more damage against me."
Keppinger, who came to the Mets from Pittsburgh as part of the Kris Benson trade, is certainly old for a prospect, but he's put up solid-to-excellent offensive numbers at every stop. This past season, Keppinger was hitting .337 AVG/.376 OBP/.455 SLG at Triple-A Norfolk when he went down with a broken left leg. If not for the injury, he might be starting in Queens right now. Once he settles in, he'll hit for average in the majors, play reliable defense and run the bases well. He makes a better long-term solution at second than Anderson Hernandez does. If Hernandez continues to founder at the plate, don't be surprised if Keppinger gets a crack at the job at some point this season.
While I agree he might be a better long term solution, Kaz will finish the year at second base...or should at least.