By Mike Steffanos
I've been generally pleased with Orlando Hernandez's pitching since he came to the Mets, especially over the last month. One thing that's been nagging me, however, is the fact that at 125 innings combined between the Mets and D-backs, he is getting close to the innings total he had for all of last year. He pitched 128 regular season innings for the White Six in 2005, getting off to a very good start but suffering some injury problems late in the year.
If you go back further, there's more room for concern. He only pitched 85 innings in 2004, coming back later in the season after missing the entire 2003 season. In 2002 he pitched 146 innings, in 2001 only 95. Therefore, although I agree with the premise that older pitchers like El Duque are just going to take their lumps once in a while, I'll be keeping my eye on how he looks over his next few starts. I also think it might be prudent of the Mets to hold his innings down somewhat the rest of the way. With 6 weeks left to go, it's conceivable that Hernandez can get another 8 to 10 starts. I don't think I'd push that old arm quite that hard.
"DD" left this comment on my wrap of last night's game:
Tell you, I love this team, and I love Pedro, but I won't be sad when the next wave of Mets pitchers takes that last stride forward.
I think most of us would agree with that. I find it interesting that the Tigers and the Mets, two of the year's most improved teams, are experiencing problems with their pitching staff from opposite ends of the spectrum. The Tigers have kids who are wearing out as they approach their career highs in innings, while the Mets starters are wearing out from age and injury concerns. I always felt the best situations combine a solid mix of experience and youth. I would expect one or two of the young pitchers that the Mets have will step into important roles for next year.
As for this season, Brian Bannister's 8 shutout innings for Norfolk bodes well, in particular if Pedro needs to go on the DL again. I wouldn't pitch Bannister on short rest for Saturday, however. Not when he's already missed such a long period of time with injuries. It would seem that Oliver Perez would be the top candidate to take Saturday's start if Pedro can't go. We haven't heard definitive word that Pedro will miss any starts, but I'd be almost shocked if he didn't at this point. The Mets have done a very good job juggling things to get the most out of their geriatric rotation in 2005. I hope next year we have different things to talk about.
In the meantime, let's hope that spry senior Tom Glavine can stop the bleeding for the Mets tonight.
Charles Euchner, who wrote the excellent baseball book The Last Nine Innings, has written a new book about all the craziness that surrounds the Little League World Series, Little League, Big Dreams. I'll be reviewing the new one in the near future. Charlie is also blogging the LLWS and Youth Sports in general at The Early Show. If you have kids who play competitive sports, or just a keen interest in the subject, Euchner's blog is a daily must-read.
SI.com: Lo Duca
Aditi Kinkhabwala proves that she has no future in tabloid journalism. The poor woman will have to just settle for being a decent human being and a very good sportswriter, I guess.
NY Sports Day: Jose Valentin
We've been treated to a lot of great Jose Valentin profiles lately, but Joe McDonald goes one better on everyone else by getting Valentin's take on the evolution of his offensive game from "all or nothing" home run guy to the more complete hitter he's been this season.