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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 New York Mets Starting Rotation: An Optimistic Review

So we all have read that Johan Santana won’t be with us the first half of the season. This is a tough pill to swallow for New York Mets fans and to be completely blunt about it, I’m tired of the pessimism surrounding the New York Mets for this upcoming 2011 season from media and fans alike.

The world is not over! The season hasn’t even begun yet! It’s only December!

For my own piece of mind, here is what we are looking at for the 2011 starting rotation, and honestly, it’s not as bad as many of us think it is. Actually, it’s not that bad at all…

Mike Pelfrey
He’s got solid stuff, we know it and he knows it. Big Pelf just needs a little push over the edge to have the breakthrough year his 6’7” frame is capable of having.
He was definitely the best pitcher on staff last season, going 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA and that is including his horrible 0-3, 10.02 ERA July. Take that month away, and we would be looking at the 11th best pitcher in the NL going 15-6 with a 2.95 ERA.
Pelfrey has already shown that he can pitch like an ace, which makes 2011 that much more important for him.
Already tabbed the Opening Day starter by manager Terry Collins, Big Pelf has the rare opportunity to carry this pitching staff on his shoulders and lead them to a successful 2011 campaign.
Expect big things from Big Pelf in 2011.
Jon Niese
Niese had a solid first full-season under his belt and will definitely learn from 2010.
He was red hot to open the season, but then simmered cool the last half; no different from any rookie pitcher during their first full season in the big show.
He pitched 173.2 innings, the most he ever has, and only gave up more than five runs in five of his 30 starts, which is something Niese should be proud of.
He entered into uncharted territory late last season with the innings and amount of wear and tear on his arm, so that’s something pitching coach Dan Warthen must work on with Jon: the stamina to make it out there every fifth day for 162 games.
Look for Niese to capitalize in a more important No. 2/3 starting role on the Mets staff this season, as he uses his new found experience to gain the edge on opposing batters.

R.A. Dickey
The true shining spot of the 2011 New York Mets, Dickey resurrected his career at the age of 35 in 2010, and is now on the lookout to prove that last year was not just a fluke.
He can single-handedly command a game when he is in command of his knuckleball, as we saw last season, and we can expect for his ceiling as a knuckleballer to be higher this season.
Ownership is said to be on the verge of signing Dickey to a long-term extension (rightfully so), which should give the knuckleballer some piece of mind to go out every fifth day and leave it all on the field.
This time last year, Mets fans and management alike had no idea what to expect from R.A., and we sure weren’t expecting what we got in 2010. So there is no telling why he can’t replicate his success and translate it to a better year in 2011.

Dillon Gee
One bright spot for the Mets last year was September call-up Dillon Gee, who pitched well in Triple-A Buffalo before making it to the big league squad.
From what we saw of Gee, he could certainly bode well for the Mets as a fourth or fifth starter, especially after facing NL East rivals so early in his major league career.
He pitched well against the Phillies, going seven innings of five hit ball and only letting up two runs for the win. He also pitched strong against the Braves, again going seven innings, giving up six hits and only three runs, but getting the tough-luck loss.
He could be the potential workhorse and innings-eater the Mets need out of the back end of the rotation, and with the bullpen as shaky as it seems to be on paper, we sure could use Gee for all he’s willing to give.

Boof Bonser/ Pat Misch
Two options to round out the pitching staff is newly signed Boof Bonser, who got an invite to spring training after inking a minor league deal, and internal option Pat Misch.
The former first-round draft pick, Bonser is on the lookout for a bounce-back season after failing to meet expectations last year, split between the Red Sox and Athletics. He was somewhat reliable out of the bullpen, but wishes to get back to the starting rotation where it all began. The Mets plan to give him that wish during spring training.
Pat Misch is also another interesting name that has filled in for the Mets as a spot starter, but hasn’t blown anyone away. He is an effective pitcher against righties, but less successful against lefties, which seems to fit better in the bullpen. Nonetheless, he will get his chance.

Jeff Francis/ Chris Young/ Free Agent
We all know that Sandy Alderson and company haven’t really been that active in the free agent market, despite what many of us believe our team needs are. But they have already stated they WILL get a free agent pitcher to shore up the starting rotation, and I believe them.
Chris Young, Jeff Francis, Brandon Webb or any of the above would be an affordable reclamation project that could prove worthwhile if they ink a one-year deal. Doing this would insure that they would try to reestablish themselves in the league to score a larger contract next winter.
With half their starts in pitcher-friendly Citi Field, any of these pitchers would do well by signing with our New York Metropolitans.

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