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Mets Pitching 20 Games In

Mike SteffanosThursday, April 26, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Sitting just at the one-eighth pole of the season, the Mets pitching hasn't been quite the disaster it was supposed to be. Four of the five starters are pitching well, and the bullpen -- while still a work in progress -- has held it's own in the early going. After 181 innings of work, the staff has put up a gaudy 2.88 ERA. Here are the other relevant numbers for the entire staff:

Mets Pitching Staff -- 20 Games
Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
181.0 2.88 7.3 6.8 4.2 0.9 .225 .324 .367

The staff isn't giving up many hits, as reflected in the hits per nine innings and low opposing batting average. The walks have been a problem, reflected in the 100 point spread between AVG and OBP. While it's likely that the hits and opponent's average will go up, the Mets should be able to cut down on that walk total somewhat.

Let's break it down into starters and relievers:

Mets Starters vs. Relievers -- 20 Games
  Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
Starters 117.2 3.21 7.6 6.6 4.1 1.1 .234 .328 .381
Relievers 63.1 2.27 6.8 7.2 4.5 0.4 .210 .317 .341

The Mets bullpen has had a couple of bad moments in the early going, but how many other teams would love to have numbers like the above from their bullpen? The problem with too many walks given up is shared by the starters and the bullpen. The homerun numbers for the starters is a little high, but 9 of the 14 bombs given up by Mets starters have been served up by Glavine and El Duque, who have been pitching very well otherwise. Maine has given up 2 in 4 games, an improvement from last year, though the Rockies hit a couple to the wall last time out. Oliver Perez has allowed one in 16 innings of work, and the embattled Mike Pelfrey has given up the other two.

Here are the individual numbers for the starting pitchers.

Mets Starters
  GS Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
Tom Glavine 5 29.1 3.07 8.3 4.9 3.7 1.2 .252 .341 .439
O. Hernandez 5 32.0 2.53 6.2 7.0 3.7 1.4 .210 .317 .341
John Maine 4 26.1 1.71 5.1 7.5 4.8 0.7 .169 .274 .247
Oliver Perez 3 16.1 3.31 8.3 9.4 3.9 0.6 .242 .329 .371
Mike Pelfrey 3 13.2 7.90 13.2 4.0 4.6 1.3 .351 .431 .509

Interesting that John Maine is averaging almost a full walk per 9 innings higher than Oliver Perez. On the other hand, through 4 games opponents are slugging only .247 against Maine. Even more impressive is the stingy .167/.224/.167 (AVG/OBP/SLG) Maine has held right-handed batters to. Oliver Perez has been almost as tough against lefty batters: .176/.222/235 so far.

Here are the individual numbers for the bullpen:

Mets Relievers
  GA Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
Joe Smith 12 11.0 0.00 5.7 9.0 3.3 0.0 .184 .262 .237
A. Burgos 10 11.1 3.97 5.6 8.7 5.6 0.8 .175 .327 .300
P. Feliciano 10 8.1 0.00 5.4 8.6 7.6 0.0 .167 .341 .200
S. Schoeneweis 10 8.0 2.25 6.8 3.4 7.9 1.1 .214 .371 .357
Billy Wagner 8 9.0 1.00 6.0 8.0 3.0 0.0 .188 .257 .313
A. Heilman 8 6.2 2.70 6.7 5.4 1.3 1.3 .200 .259 .480
Aaron Sele 5 9.0 6.00 12.0 6.0 3.0 0.0 .316 .357 .447

While it's way too small of a sampling to read too much into these numbers, it's obvious that Schoeneweis, Feliciano and Burgos are leading the way in free passes issued.

Pedro Feliciano has been generous to both righties and lefties, walking 4 righties in 20 plate appearances while giving up 3 to southpaws in 16 PA.

Scott Schoeneweis has allowed 6 of his 7 walks to right-handers. The Mets feel he can get out both righties and lefties, but the early returns don't look good:

vs. RHB (17 AB): .235/.435/.471
vs. LHB (11 AB): .182/.250/.182
Again, it is very early in the game.

Ambiorix Burgos has given up 5 of his 7 walks in 2 appearances: 3 in the eventful ninth inning agsint the Rockies in Monday's win, and 2 in that dismal 1/3 of an inning against the Braves in that Friday night game where Hudson was unhittable. In his other 8 appearances he has walked 2 in 10 innings of work. By the way, Burgos' splits show how tough he already is on righties, but how much he needs to improve against lefties.

vs. RHB (20 AB): .050/.240/.050
vs. LHB (20 AB): .300/.417/.550

Joe Smith has dominated right-handers in the early going, and has also fared well in a small sampling against lefties:

vs. RHB (23 AB): .174/.296/.217
vs. LHB (11 AB): .182/.182/.273

The issues at this point are the fifth starter and the early control problems of the bullpen's two southpaws. Still, 20 games in the pitching has been more than solid, and the numbers bear that out.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (6)

Remember all the disaster theories about our rotation after Zito took his cash in SF? Remember all the talk of how Omar Minaya dropped the ball? Well those theories through the first 20 games are nothing more than silly memories.

Mike Pelfrey is a cause for concern, as he just doesn't appear to be ready for the big show yet. But with the other 4 starters doing their part, Omar's gameplan of stockpiling serviceable arms this winter has given the Mets a security blanket few teams enjoy. Even if Pelfrey ultimately goes down to AAA after his next start, we'll have viable (if not sexy) options ready to take his place and help this team win. Sosa, Vargas and Humber all are pitching well enough to help if called upon. Sosa would seem to be the logical next candidate. In short, the rotation will be fine.

As for the pen, the walks clearly have to come down. But in the chaos that seemed to follow the Duaner Sanchez loss in March, we have found 3 or 4 guys that seem more than able to handle the 7th and 8th innings. That's just the cushion Aaron Heilman needs to nurse his tendinitis and be healthy for the 2nd half. And once Mota is back, we'll have a bullpen of Wagner, Mota, Heilman, Smith, Feliciano, Schoeneweis and Sele awaiting our opponents in the late innings.

Not too shabby.

Not too shabby indeed. Although I think that the Mets should never feel satisfied. We'll have a much better sense of how things will shake out by game 40. If the pitching staff looks at all shaky I don't know why they don't even consider going after Roger Clemens. I mean all he costs is money. We don't have to give anything up for...prospects or what not. This is obviously a staff that is built on the "now"...Glavine, Hernandez (and then Pedro when he finally returns) are all ancient men...whats the harm of adding one more.

I just don't want to go through the nightmare this year that we experienced last year. If this team is fortunate enough to make the playoffs, I want them to have a pitching staff that they can rely on. As great as Maine & Perez were last year in game 6 and 7...we forget how surprising there starts were. And we got killed in game 3 with Traeschal pitching...he was terrible.

Wouldn't you rather go into a playoff series with Glavine, Martinez, Clemens and then Hernandez?

With Maine and Perez coming out of the pen? That would be a pitching staff that would put fear in the eyes of most lineups.

http://www.americanlegends.blogspot.com/

Good, timely article. Obviously there is a lot to like about the early going.

My guess is that Pelfrey figures out what he is doing that is flattening out his speedball. Maybe he is overthrowing it, I don't know, but the pitch doesn't look much like it did the one time I caught him in spring training. Thankfully Coach Rick isn't facing a full schedule and can devote some time to the problem.

Again guessing, but I doubt Scott Schoeneweis is going to be a long term Met. He has always been a mediocre pitcher, good enough to play but no star; and today he is still all that plus he is 33 years of age. I only hope some day somebody explains why they signed him to three years in the first place.

Mike, I really like this post. I could have called some of this, but certainly not all of it. Joe Smith has been positively nasty.

I think that another bad start on Pelfrey's part warrants a call-up for Vargas. Pelfrey needs serious work on his secondary stuff and is obviously suffering from a lack of AAA experience. The kid needs time; he's young, he's had most of his experience against aluminum bats, and he doesn't have a full repertoire.

As for the bullpen, I think Burgos should go down in favor of Urdaneta, even before Mota comes back. Like Pelfrey, Burgos is young, might have been called up too quickly, and needs work on pitching something other than his fastball. We let John Maine work that out for a bit between last year and this off-season, and that certainly paid dividends. I think that at the end of the day, both of them are gonna be studs and shake the pejorative label of "one-pitch pitcher."

Guys,

1. The essence of Mike's post is right on. We are fine. Even the media has the Mets as BY FAR, the class of the NL and as opposed to the 2 past yrs we have more depth both in youth, quality and quantity.

2. As the stats bear out, Maine is very good. I cant harp on it enuff. I really like him. He IS the pitcher we were looking for when we got Kris Benson. He might not be dominant ie Petey dominant, but last yr out of nowhere he came up from AAA when we needed him and strung to together a 30 inning scoreless streak. Imagine you are the offense and you know THIS guy will keep you in a game...the confidence that gives you. This yr he is at it again going 3-0 with a micro-cold resistant ERA......AND as for Clemens ..maine gave a clutch shut out in the NLCS...what more do you need from him?

3. I like Burgos. He brings a righty flame thrower to the table and he is getting better. He might have to go down, but he is definately in the mix for this yrs bullpen, even long term. I also echo the urdanetta call, I think at some point he also contributes.

4. Right now my biggest concern is that long man role. Sele has not really 'excelled' there. Possibly Park or Sosa might do better.

5. And Mike; While I dont want to see Pelfrey traded, I am envisioning two 'strikes' against him. Humber, Deolis, jon nieve and Mulvanney are close behind him and in the mix for next yr. AND he is a top tier prospect who Minnesota, Houston, and the Cubs WILL ask for in a trade for Zambrano, Santana or Oswalt.
B. On that note: Glavine most likely retires after this yr, Petey we must be carefull with and next yr is his walk yr.(as is EL Duque). So once again we must talk about importing a top tier pitcher if not WITHIN this season, the next off season. I belive Zambrano is looking for 15 Mill per.

Salman - I still think Pelfrey's problems are more about pressing than about not being ready. Sure, he needs to refine his secondary pitches, but he can do that in the majors under Peterson's tutelage if he can relax and start pounding the bottom of the zone as he did this spring.
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J. Mark English - By all accounts, Clemens won't come here. That's fine with me. I think we have enough without him, especially if Pedro makes it back. I just could never truly accept Clemens as a Met.
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dd - I think he'll be a Met for at least 2 years of that 3 year contract. At least he threw some strikes last time out.
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Matt - As I said to Salman, I still think Pelfrey has a chance to turn it around up here, although he needs to do it quick. Urdaneta has a 5.59 ERA in New Orleans, and has given up a couple of homers already. I think he needs work down there.
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Ed - None of those other names have the ceiling of Pelfrey, and I would hardly characterize any of them besides Humber as "close", and I don't see Michael Devaney as more than a fringe prospect. I just wonder if the tremendous cost in multiple top prospects of landing a Santana or Zambrano would be worth it in the long run. You'd have to give up Pelfrey and probably 2 others out of Milledge, Gomez, Humber and Martinez.

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