You ugly..you ugly...yo mamma says you ugly.
Ok, some thoughts on the game. First, it was an ugly game. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm not going to talk about Wagner, we know he will be good. He says he is bad in spring and missed two weaks. He will be in season form in two works or so. There is nothing to worry about and I doubt anyone actually is. However, there were two points of contention for me.
Brian Bannister no hit the Nationals for five innings, but looked eminently hittable. I never thought I would say this, but he pitched inside too much. He hit two guys, one in the head and one almost in the head. He hit two guys, but almost hit like five other guys. I was cringing at points. If he keeps that up, he will not be a popular player in this league and many Mets will suffer some sort of retaliation. There is coming inside, and there is endangering players and not having control while you are doing it. It was cold, but he is not the only guy who had to pitch in the cold.
The Nationals team was a great team to face for such a young player. The only hard stretch he really had was Vidro, Soriano, Guillen, and Nick Johnson. The other four are two rookies, one a good one in Ryan Zimmerman, the ice cold Brian Schnieder, and the pitcher/pinch hitters. The first time facing the meat, he got through Vidro and Guillen, but walked Johnson and plunked Soriano. However, the at-bat to Vidro had a lot of borderline calls and Vidro went fishing to strikeout because of it. The next time, he got all four of them. The last time, three runs were plated. When faced with legit hitters, he did not look good with the exception of one at-bat that he struck out Guillen.
You have to give him credit though. He still navigated through six innings, including two jams while throwing a no-hitter through five and a third. That is no small accomplishment for your first start. The second inning jam and the jam in the sixth were tough. However, putting six people on without hits is not going work out well for him. Next time he starts, Bannister gets to face the same lineup and that will be interesting to see. The Nats will have seen him once during the regular season and another time close before that during the spring. The hitters will have a good feel for him and it will great to see if/how he adjusts.
All in all, it was his first game. You would be crazy to say it was not a success even though it may not have been smooth, but it was cold out temperature wise and I'm sure the nerves were fighting him the entire way. However, if he wants to keep Heilman in the pen and Lima at AAA, he needs to pitch better. Much better. Keith remarked that he was uncharacteristically wild, but if he is in the zone more with the stuff he was showing last night, he will get tattooed. This performance reminds me of Tyler Yates' first start back in 2004 when he strangely enough, faced the Washington Nationals. He went six innings, gave up five hits, gave up no runs, and struck out four. Yates made six more starts after than and though many of you probably think the comparison is unfair since they are very different pitchers, Bannister's stuff looks average. I am concerned for sure and I will say it again. Heilman can be a much better starter this year for the Mets, but as we are seeing, the Mets bullpen is kind of thin without him. Quite a pickle that has been created, wouldn't you say?
It is early and the sample size is small, but I do not think he can hit. Hernandez looking up at the Mendoza line may be all we can get and I did say looking up at it and not battling it. Last year's eighteen at-bats were a small sample size and attributable to nerves, but the at-bats this year were much of the same thing. An overmatched kid that does not resemble a big league hitter and when he faced two good pitchers in John Patterson and Chad Cordero, they made him look silly.
That being said, he has some serious leather. That superman catch to end the eighth was fucking swell. Really fucking swell. However, the Mets are very good offensively, but not good enough to have a two pitchers sitting at the bottom on the lineup. While he is in his grace period he will get his chances. However, he is not a long term solution in 2006 in my opinion. Will he pull a 180 and turn it around? I just do not see how he can turn the bat on that much because he has looked lost whenever I have seen him with my own eyes. I want nothing more than for him to work out there and just pick up some singles and hold his own, but he might not be able to.
Bannister and Hernandez are two things that I think will not last this year. Ultimately, the Mets are going to need to do something about both of them. They are not the Yankees, they need production out of all five rotation spots because they are not going to score ten runs a game and need some capable bats one through eight. They simply cannot have a black hole in eigth spot and Bannister just does not look like he can give what the Mets need as of yet. Sure, it was one game, but I know what I saw. If he is in the strike zone more against a good offensive team, he will get slammed. He will get a few more shots, but he needs to do a lot better. He only gave up three runs, but it could have easily been more.
"(Sox manager Terry Francona) said that I could be throwing the ball better and that Papelbon’s throwing the ball great and do what you’re told," Foulke said. "The team comes first. You have to do what’s important for the team, not for yourself."
Of course, Keith is to assume the closer's role once he starts throwing better, but judging by his injuries and last season, that may never happen.
Jorge Julio = train wreck
"I wanted to be better," said Julio, who owns an unsightly 27.00 ERA. "My first time here, pitching in this stadium, I don't know the mound, I don't know about nothing here. It's my first time and that's what happened (in) the game."
Wow, at least he is not big on excuses. Last I checked, the mound was the same height, the balls still had the same number of stiches, and the fences were roundabouts where you would think they would be.
"Throwing a fastball at 90 mph, it's like having needles stuck in your fingers (when releasing the ball)," he said. "Your joints get tight. Who do you think lasts longer? A DH or a starting pitcher?
"In my next life, I'm not going to be a pitcher. I'm going to be a DH. ... I'll swing like David (Ortiz). I'll be big and strong and go yard. Being a pitcher is not fun."
Pedro has only pitched six innings so far this spring so if he gets into through six, it will be a blessing. Sanchez, Heilman, and Wagner are all available to pitch tonight as well as Chad Bradford, the last major piece of the Mets bullpen that has not seen any action as of yet.