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metman313131@yahoo.com
03-09-2012, 22:26
The Mets come into the start of the spring with their starting rotation set but with numerous questions to answer from top to bottom.

Johan Santana- Barring any set backs the Mets ace is set to make the Opening Day start against the Braves on April 5th. After missing over a year with a shoulder injury, Santana will look to return to the shadow of the pitcher he was when joined the Mets in 2008. The problem is, even before the injury Santana was nowhere near the pitcher he once was. He has seen his strikeouts per nine innings drop from 9.5 to 6.5 over his three seasons, as his velocity has steadily decreased and his slider has lost some of its bite. Though itís highly improbable he will ever be the pitcher he used to be, Santana is smart and even without his best stuff was able to post a 2.98 ERA before the injury in 2010. The Mets need to hope Santana can get off to a good start, stay healthy and pitch into June, raising his value and allowing them to trade him by the deadline. By the time the Mets are good again, Santana will be way past his prime and if the Mets can shed the remaining two years on his contract and possible get a prospect in return, they would do so in a heartbeat.

Jon Niese- Niese has the best stuff on the staff with a wicked curveball and sneaky fastball. He posted an 11-8 record before losing his last three decisions to finish the year at 11-11. Niese, who didnít pitch in September because of rib cage injury has the chance to become a solid number three starter but needs to find consistency. He brings the most excitement and optimism to the Mets starting five as he has the potential to be the best on the staff.

RA Dickey- Fresh off his journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro Dickey returns for this third season with the Mets. Getting off to a slow start in 2011, Dickey turned things around after suffering a heal injury against the Cubs in late May. Over the final four months of the season, Dickey threw a quality start in 18 of his final 22 games, including 12 straight to close out the year. Though he only posted an 8-13 record he was the most reliable on the staff with 3.28 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. His two best games came in his final two starts of the year as he faced off but lost in a classic 1-0 duel with Tim Hudson on the second to last weekend off the season and then took a no-hitter into the 7th against the Phillies on the final Saturday of the year. I expect more of the same from Dickey in 2012 but with double digit wins if he finishes the year with the team.

Dillon Gee- Gee didnít start the year in the starting rotation but quickly showed he belonged wining his first seven decisions with 2.86 ERA through June 15th. Things became much harder for Gee over the second half of the year, as he lost command, walked too many batters and pitched to over a 5.50 ERA. Geeís season reminded me a lot of Bobby Jones 2007 year. Both looked dominant into June, but never pitched the same again the rest of the season. Jones ended the year 15-9 while Gee finished 13-6. The Mets would be lucky if Gee has a Bobby Jones like career with the Mets but I can also see him dropping off the face of the earth very quickly. Either way, Iíd sign for him throwing a one hit shutout in the clinching game of playoff series.

Mike Pelfrey- Though he might not be listed as the Mets fifth starter, Pelfrey continues to be the most inconsistent and frustrating pitcher to watch. Coming of a year when he was deemed the ďace,Ē as he was given the ball in the Mets opener in Florida, Pelfrey had a horrific season, finishing the year with a 4.74 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and a 7-13 record. Besides a great stretch to open the 2010 season, Pelfrey has been painful to watch. He canít put hitters away, which leads to extended at-bats, inflated pitch counts and too many base runners. This could be Pelfreyís last chance to prove himself with the Mets.

Robert Urio
www.212sports.com