By Mike Steffanos
I understand why the Mets rolled the dice with Jose Lima for a couple of starts, I really do. He had a decent year in LA two seasons ago, and he's a little bit of a flake that's not afraid to pitch under pressure. He would have been perfect for New York if he had anything left.
The problem is he doesn't. He can talk about the close pitches all he wants. I watched the game last night, and the umpire was fairly consistent with the strike zone. The real problem is Lima himself. The Brewers cooperated with him the first time through the lineup by chasing sliders out of the strike zone. When they started laying off that pitch I knew it was all over for Lima. I was hoping that he could get lucky and get through an inning or two, but it all caught up with him. Even when he was ahead of batters, he couldn't put them away, and then when they started hitting him he started trying to make perfect pitches. It was at that point it got ugly.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the Mets are going to swing a deal for any decent pitcher until close to the trade deadline. Does anyone out there feel truly confident that Jeremi Gonzalez will be a significant upgrade to Lima? All the Mets can hope from the journeyman Gonzalez is that they can catch lightening in a bottle for a few starts, as they were hoping to do with Jose Lima. Brian Bannister is pitching a simulated game today, and may return next weekend versus the Yankees. We hear that John Maine may be throwing again very soon. We continue to hear promising things about Mike Pelfrey and Alay Soler. We hope that Trachsel can find his game and keep the Mets in his starts, and that Bannister can return and do the same.
That still leaves a fifth starter to be found, someone who can keep the Mets in games until the trade deadline or the emergence of Mike Pelfrey or Soler. Maybe Maine comes back from that minor finger injury and pieces some decent starts together. If things continue to go the way they are going, keeping Heilman in the bullpen could become a moot point. You don't need guys to protect leads that you don't have.
I know some are upset that the Phillies are hot and coming up fast in the standings. That doesn't matter much to me; it's too early to get hung up on stuff like that. The Mets need to figure themselves out right now before they worry what Philly and Atlanta are doing. There offense still sputters on and off like a badly tuned car, and they need to find 3 guys to keep them in games that aren't named Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez -- or Jose Lima. The magical, funny sideshow that was "Lima Time" has run it's course.
The Journal News: Summing Up Lima
In the "I couldn't have said it any better myself" category, John Delcos nails it on Lima:
Lima might have been victimized by a bad umpire's call in his first start - and again last night he complained about not getting the close ones - but he was really done in by the same old thing.
"I was trying to be too perfect," Lima said. "When I don't get the pitches, I get away from my stuff, and that's when I get in trouble. ... It was my fault."
Lima breezed through the first three innings, when - surprise - things started to unravel as he went through Milwaukee's lineup a second time.
Carlos Beltran's RBI grounder and Carlos Delgado's homer in the first, and David Wright's sacrifice fly in the third, gave Lima a 3-0 lead. However, instead of seizing the moment, Lima instead showed why the Mets are still looking for a starter.
Good pitchers possess an ability to close out an inning before it reaches critical mass, and that's why the game got away from the Mets in the fifth. [my emphasis]
Speaking of guys who should retire...
Darren Oliver got off to a decent start for the Mets, appearing in 8 games in April and pitching to a 2.61 ERA. He also gave up a couple of home runs.
In May, Oliver has given up a home run in all 3 appearances he has made. In 6.1 IP, he has allowed 5 ER. He gets a lot of credit for holding Atlanta for 4 innings in the game Zambrano went down, but did allow 2 runs in those 4 innings. The other two appearances were just plain bad. Oliver retired last year for a reason. It seems like he sneaked up on the league early in the year, but now that they have some video on him teams are smoking him like a cheap cigar.