Monday, September 10, 2007
A Surprising Abundance
As potential Comeback Player of the Year Oliver Perez battles Braves Ace, Tim Hudson, I am surprised to observe that the September Mets, once thought to have a glaring Achilles heal in the starting rotation, now seem to face some tough decisions due to an excess of strong, healthy arms heading into the playoffs. This, despite the face the Omar Minaya did not go out and acquire a starter at the trade deadline, as many suspected he might. While the Mets do not have anybody with numbers dominant enough to compare with Jake Peavy or Brandon Webb, or even Carlos Zambrano, they do have four pitchers who will record double digits in wins and almost undoubtedly finish significantly above .500. Willie Randolph may choose to build a playoff rotation which does not include his biggest winner, John Maine, who is 14-9 with a 3.80 ERA on the season, but only 4-5 with a 5.86 ERA since the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, over that same span, Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, Oliver Perez, and the recently activated Pedro Martinez have gone a very impressive 17-3. Health issues may make Randolph's decision somewhat easier, as both Hernandez and Martinez have been strictly limited at times. But it will be difficult to exclude any of his trio of super-veterans considering those second half numbers which show no signs of fatigue and their postseason records. Pedro is 6-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 11 playoff starts. Tom Glavine has made an amazing 35 playoff appearances, going a modest 14-16 with a 3.42 ERA, but that does include a World Series MVP. And, of course, the infamous El Duque will be going for a World Series thumb ring, having covered all his fingers, by going 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 14 postseason starts. Considering such a collection of gravitas, as well as the Mets deep bullpen and much-lauded offense, few teams, especially in the National League, seem likely to match up well with them in a short series. The Padres, their most likely first-round opponent at this point, can take some solace in the fact that they have taken four of six from the Mets this season in two very hard-fought second-half series.