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A Finely Aged Cuban Goes the Distance

Mike SteffanosFriday, June 9, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 7 - Diamondbacks 1

After two disappointing starts in a Mets uniform, Orlando Hernandez pitched a complete game 3-hitter against his former team, coming up just one out short of the shutout. He had masterful control of his curveball and changeup, and had pop on his fastball that we hadn't previously seen. The Mets now have managed to win 3 of 4 on this road trip while using the "big 3" of Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman and Duaner Sanchez only one inning apiece total in those 4 games.

More importantly, with Trachsel's fine outing against the Giants Sunday and Soler's terrific performance against the Dodgers Monday, for the first time since Bannister went down the Mets have had consecutive solid performances from the bottom three of their rotation.

On offense, the Mets had another majestic blast from Carlos Beltran, 3 RBIs from Endy Chavez, and another 2 hits from Jose Valentin. They played solid defense in the field behind El Duque all night, not insignificant given that he only struck out 3 batters.

Hernandez used 114 pitches to toss his gem, 73 strikes and 41 balls. He was in trouble only once in the game. In the third inning, already staked to a 5-0 lead, he gave up a 1-out double to opposing pitcher Claudio Vargas. He seemed to lose his composure a little, and walked leadoff man Craig Counsell on five pitches. He came back and induced Jeff DaVanon to hit a groundball to Jose Reyes for a force at second, then got Chad Tracy to fly out and end the threat. He didn't allow another baserunner until Luis Gonzalez walked leading off the seventh.

Steve Trachsel pitches tomorrow night for the Mets at 9:40 PM ET, trying to keep the bottom-of-the-rotation mojo going. Miguel Batista, who went the distance in a win against the Mets last week, pitches for the Diamondbacks.

Box Score

Comments (2)

I have the feeling that Trachel's start is of first importance to the fortunes of these Mets.

A few weeks ago I was ready to close the book on Mr. Trachsel. A decent guy who gave the Mets some decent work during the team's time in the wilderness, it was, and is, fairly clear that Steve has always drawn from a pretty weak hand; if he possesses a Plus pitch I don't know of it, and his command is nothing special. Fellows like Trachsel usually have short careers; the loss of 5% of their stuff is usually a ticket out of the big leagues.

Then Trachsel put together that game against the Giants, and folks like me have to reconsider. The thing is, if the Mets can get good starting pitching maybe 55% of the time from the last three names in the rotation -- they can be a very good team, with as good a chance as anyone to go the distance.

So I'm watching Steve's start with extra-special interest tonight. Virtually all of the off-season additions have come through for this team; now it's time to learn whether the old guard can hold up their part of the bargain.

That's a pretty solid analysis. I think maybe I'd go a little higher on the % of good starts from the bottom 3. Trachsel has a plus curve when he can throw it for strikes. He used to get a lot of swings and misses at hit split, too. I'm not exactly sure why they don't bite at that pitch much anymore.

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