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Trachsel Can't Start a Playoff Game

Mike SteffanosThursday, August 3, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

With apologies to those who feel that I spend too much time on Steve Trachsel in this space, I'm becoming more and more convinced that Trachsel's pitching has become an issue for this team that needs to be addressed. He has a winning record and seems to motivate the offense to score a lot of runs for him -- but I can't help but feel that they score a lot of runs because they know they will need them. Run support and a gaudy 10-5 record are masking the season-long ineffectiveness of the man that is often referred to as the Mets third starter.

Trachsel's ERA for the season is 5.12. Some have written that this is reflective of a poor start. That's not true. Steve's ERA was 4.73 in April, 5.46 in May, 4.30 in June, 6.15 in July and 4.76 in one game in August. In contrast, Orlando Hernandez has pitched to a 4.19 ERA since coming over from Arizona. After struggling with a 4.81 ERA in June, Hernandez had a 3.04 ERA in July -- this despite being bombed out of the Cubs game in the second inning in his first start after the break. He's pitched well in big games. He has age concerns, but if you compare his starts to Trachsel's there is no comparison -- right now, Hernandez would be the clear choice to start the third playoff game, not Trachsel.

Then you have the issue of going deep into games. Steve has made 21 starts this season and has thrown 116 innings. That's an average of just over 5.5 innings per start. Month by month, he averaged 5.3 innings in April, 5.6 in May, 5.9 in June, 5.3 in July and he went 5-2/3 in his first August start. You could argue for a time in June that Trachsel was getting better, but his numbers in both ERA and innings per start have fallen again, and that's not a good sign.

I mentioned yesterday that I felt like I'd like to see John Maine prove that he's a better option for fourth starter than Steve Trachsel. I simply believe that Maine has much better stuff than Trachsel, and if he can grow enough mentally between now and the playoffs -- a big "if", admittedly -- he gives the Mets a far better chance of winning a playoff game.

Please understand, if I've written a lot about Steve Trachsel in this space, it's not because I dislike him or don't root for him as hard as I do for any Met. For the longest time I hoped that he would prove me wrong. I believe there is more to baseball than bare stats, but sometimes numbers do tell a story, and I don't like what they're telling me about Trachsel. If he was really going to turn his season around, he would have done it already. Now he's just a guy that turns a lot of run support into some wins -- but at the expense of draining more out of a bullpen that's already been hurt by Duaner Sanchez' late night cab ride. With due respect to Trachsel, I'd like to see a younger pitcher push him aside. I believe that would pay dividends both this year and down the road.

And the true "idiot of the month" is...
A couple of blogging colleagues weighed in on the Gothamist web site declaring Duaner Sanchez their Idiot of the Month. The post was in truly poor taste and certainly flirted with racism, although that probably wasn't the author's intention. I hope that in the future Tien Mao will wait until the next day to write something after she returns home from a night of heavy drinking.

Mets Grrl (Mets Grrl ):
Yes, Gothamist's sports coverage is puerile at best. But this has got to be the most dumb-ass article I have seen, since the one that complained that Patti Smith hogged the Bowery Ballroom every New Year's Eve, depriving indieflavorbandofthemonth from that venue, and couldn't she just die already?

A Friend of Mr. Glass' (Yankees 2000: Promote the Curse):
... It pains me to write this post because I really like Gothamist as a website, but the idiocy of the author, Tien Mao, is truly staggering here.

In addition to criticizing Duaner for being in a taxi cab so late at night and chastising the Mets for not having a curfew on the nights before off-days, Tien goes on to suggest the following to Duaner's Dominican compadres:

"Note to Jose Reyes and Pedro Martinez: if you have cravings like your fellow Dominican, please don't go on a futile late-night search in a city you don't live in. Thank you."

I'm not sure that this sentence is racist necessarily (as some on the comment board have claimed), but it's certainly in bad taste, and it's unquestionably stupid and unfunny.

Mets Guy in Michigan: The "POLR"
Dave has a funny story about his own "Billy Wagner moment". Stay loose, Dave -- if Wagner continues to struggle your bullpen phone might ring ...

Hot Foot: Matt Lindstrom
Hot Foot passes along some good news about the Mets farmhand.

Metstradamus: It smells like victory...
Metstradamus offers up a new product launch not to be missed.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (11)

Hi Mike- I agree with fully on Trachsel, at the end of the day if he has a .500 record you're lucky. The tell tale sign is his bloated ERA of over 5.00
Wins, to me like Saves don't mean alot-it's the ERA that is more telling, thats why I think Roberto Hernandez will probably do OK this time around with the Mets since eventhough he had an 0-3 record in Pittsburgh, his ERA was 2.93. Trachsel is not someone I would feel confident sending to the mound in the play offs.

Mets guy in Michigan, is funny stuff which I can somehow relate to. I still think I am some kind of 20 year old allstar, untill the church picnic and you can't even play catch without getting winded or dropping every ball tossed to you. But the next day or so I am yellin at some Met who didn't get to the ball. How soon I forget.GOD bless the Mets and pray for me and my 20 year old allstar deception.

Shari -- Your last sentence is the most important arguement. I feel the same way.
Rev -- you better start getting back into shape for that September callup.


I agree with you on the whole Trachsel issue. Some Mets fans seem to think that Trachsel is a perfectly viable option as a #3 or #4 starter, and I simply cannot agree with that assesment at all. Some people seem to insist that his bloated number of wins (he might deserve about 4) is not a result of run support...but the man is sporting a 5.12 ERA. If the Mets offense wasn't giving him run support to the tune of about 7.1 runs-per-game (I think) there's no way a pitcher with an ERA like that would only be 4 wins behind the Major League Leader (I think Verlander has 14).

I'll be willing to concede that it isn't that hard to see the Mets winning a playoff series against the Reds, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, or even the Cardinals with Trax in there. However, I have two issues (well, more than that, but I'll spare everyone) with having him in the playoff rotation:

1. In a short series (5-game NLDS)...if someone like Glavine or Pedro has a bad game and all the sudden the Mets are in a must-win Game 3 w/ the Series at 1-1, who is honestly going to be confident in Steve Trachsel pitching a gem (or anything resembling a gem) in Game 3? A WHIP in the 2.00-3.00 range over 5 IP is going to be very troublesome in a must-win playoff game.

2. Are we confident in a World Series game against a team like the Tigers, White Sox, Red Sox, (or even Twins or Angels with their great staffs) with Trax in there? It's going to be very hard to get 6-7 runs against those staffs, and there's nothing to say they won't jump all over Trax and put up a 10 spot.

Give me El Duque or Maine at this point.

I've written nearly enuff lately to satisfy my urges...but theres one thing that sticks in my mind...after the accident and the subsequent trade, I watched MLB video archives on Oliver Perez....in 2004 this kid, at 22 years old was, dare I say, "Gooden-like"....he was throwing darts in the mid ninties and scary....and he was exuberant, hopping over the baseline on the way to the dugout after leaving batters corkscrewed into the dirt...it was bugs bunny...on Trachsel, hes a fluke...his stuff aint sh-t, hes not creative, its not some cerebral thing, yet he manages to have the Baseball G-ds on his side at least till now....its the bizarro world...sending him out in the playoffs is a vision I cant imagine...he'd be keelhauled by the fans and media if he lost a meaningful game...for his safety, and ours, best he be put in cryogenic cold storage for the duration...

In other news: Jose Reyes signed a $23.25 mil/4-year deal (w/ a 5th year option), which locks him up for his arbitration years, plus at least one more. I think it's great news, we really don't need to be haggling with the left side of the infield.

Actually, that's an understatement. It's frikkin' fantastic news!

1. On TRAXX:
You are being tastefull. Earlier You said he was reliable, then needed to put up or shut up, you have stopped short of another commentary which flat out said he should be waived. The numbers dont lie. Without big time relief support....(4IP per start)and defense. He's done. I'd rather throw Ollie Perez out there....more on that later.

2. Jesus Flores. Flores is tearing up AA, and has improved each month and in aug is hitting .1000. Opinion is that the near ready studs are at AA. Also the jump to AA is minimal. Wright, Reyes, Milledge barely had coffee at AAA. Pelfrey jumped AA, and realistically Humber could too. Defensively Flores is the one of best C prospects in the game...AND the only reason he is not in the ML is his injury last yr playing in the last game of SPR tng. He will be a SEPT call up...why not give him a dip in the ocean now.

3. On the same vein the Mets have given auspicious shots to Soler, Maine, Pelfrey, Milledge, Ahern, Bannister (et al), All have made some level of noise, (no loud thuds). Feasibly with a 15 gm lead, I would not be suprised if Bannister, Humber, Flores and Gomez (inc Ollie)gets some long looks. At the same time Diaz, (ala Kepp) can terminate his lease because he (or Traxx) is the next trade. Note Peterson's comments on Maine in the publications today about adaptability and hardwork.

4. On Ollie: There is a health/attitude issue, but I'm interested in the outcomes of his BP session. The reason is the Mets biggest defeciency is lefty pitching. With the decline/erratic nature/age of Glavine 24yr old Ollie could be the future lefty ace of the staff. Call me an optimist, (prefer soothsayer) but I think Ollie could be the gm4 playoff starter with El-duque in relief. (Pedro-Glavine-Maine-Olie/El-duque)to give a R-L-R-L balance. Ollie is slated to go to AAA first then come up in Sept if he gets confidence/catches fire ala Maine look out.

Bini -- I don't spit on Trachsel for getting 10 wins by any means, but you're right that it has more to do with the offense than with good pitching. And you're right again that he will not see that type of run support against playoff pitching.
n8genius -- a lot of fans are excited about Perez. Certainly if he pans out that trade will be a steal.
Joe -- yeah, I just posted it per John Heyman at SI.com. Really good news.

Ed -- I have no interest in trashing the guy, but I have evolved towards wondering if he has a place on this team if the young guys step up.

You know, you have a point on Flores. If Castro can't go it might make more sense to give him a chance than some washed up, never-was veteran.

I think you have a point on looking at some kids, and I would be in favor of that.

We'll see on Perez. I was impressed with him 2 years ago, but he needs to pick it up in a hurry to be on the playoff roster.

Well, I am not suprised to see you took issue with the Trax comment. I think we ALL knew he wasn't going to nail down the third spot in the playoff rotation. That's no revelation. The long and the short of it is this is Omar's fault. I believe there is alot of misplaced anger/blmae going towards Trax. He's a #5 starter for this team. But management labeled him a #3 and is now expected to pitch like it. This is one of Omar's few mistakes this past year. He should have sold while Trax was at his highest value, sometime in early July.

I don't come here to be entertained. I come to find out info and opinions on my favorite team. It seems you were in fact offended that I said the complaints were a little excessive in regards to Trax. Makes no difference. I'll still read anyway. Keep up the good work.

That's really unfair Chris. I didn't take issue at all. I agreed with you that I talk about Trachsel a lot and gave you my thinking why. I read other guys, too, and sometimes I skip stuff they write when it doesn't interest me, and I wouldn't be offended if you told me you did the same with my stuff. I took time and tried to give you a thoughtful answer, but you read into it what wasn't there, anyway, and that frustrates me now.

I'm not angry at Trachsel, I wasn't angry at you. Believe me or not, it's up to you. I still think Trachsel is a big story here, and I'll continue to speak to it.

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