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Young Pitchers

Mike SteffanosSaturday, September 8, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Coming into the season, I was very comfortable with the Mets electing to go with young starting pitching with promise rather than signing mediocre veteran pitching. Despite the bumps in the road encountered by John Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey, I believe that it proved to be the right decision. Maine and Perez have combined to give the Mets over 320 innings with 22 games to go in the regular season. While both have stumbled somewhat down the stretch, there is certainly something to build on with these two going forward. Now Mike Pelfrey has shown signs that he's a piece of the future of this ballclub.

For the first time since the mid-80s, the Mets have the pieces of a young starting rotation that they could build the team around. Perez and Maine are 26, while Pelfrey is 23. They all seem to thrive under the spotlight of playing baseball in New York, which is always a question mark when you sign a free-agent pitcher (see Rogers, Kenny).

Most of Mike Pelfrey's contributions will come in future seasons, but Maine and Perez still have the chance to insert themselves into the playoff rotation with a strong September.

Reds 7 - Mets 0
Played Wednesday, September 5, 2007

After that terrific start under pressure in Atlanta that reversed the momentum from the Phillies debacle, I was hoping that Maine might put another one up there and keep the positive momentum going. Instead, he looked lost from the beginning of this one. It's all part of the process with young pitchers, but I'm beginning to wonder if it might make sense for the Mets to skip a start with Maine in the next week or two if the lead remains comfortable.

John Maine (Last 5 Starts)
Season   (28 Games)168787114714666213.801.2717-11

View John Maine's Full Season Stats

Box Score

Mets 11 - Astros 3
Played Friday, September 7, 2007

Mike Pelfrey had trouble throwing that slider for strikes, and the Astros had obviously seen some tape from the Braves game. Still, I think Pelfrey pitched better than his final line bears out. 10 hits in 5-1/3 innings doesn't look good, but it's amazing how many of those were bloops and bleeders. Still, if Pelfrey throws more of his off-speed pitches for strikes, he doesn't give up 10 hits. It's all part of the process.

I'd still expect Mike Pelfrey to start next season in the minors, but if he made the big club next year he'd be better prepared as far as innings pitched to shoulder a major league workload. After pitching less than 120 combined innings in the majors and minors last season he has amassed 140 so far in 2007.

That slider still needs some refining, but he's shown some real promise with it in his last two starts. It was amazing to me how many people were writing this kid off after his struggles in the early season. If he could throw the slider consistently for strikes and develop a decent change of speed he would have all of the weapons needed to be a major league starter -- perhaps even a 1 or 2 starter. Again, we need to keep in mind that he's only 23, in his second pro season and still developing his arsenal.

Mike Pelfrey (Last 5 Starts)
Season (12 Games)60363568372955.251.623-8
Used once as a reliever. Team results in starts only.

View Mike Pelfrey's Full Season Stats

Box Score

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 (3)

I read elsewhere the idea of having John Maine skio a start, and I must say I agree. El Duque is supposed to be back around Tuesday, and it won't hurt one bit to sneak another start for Mike Pelfrey.

Humber had a good year in AAA, you know, even if the numbers don't scream out at you. I think pitching will continue to be a Mets strength over the next several years.

I like the youth movement too, even if it hasn't been altogether stunning, compared to where we were a few years ago, its a revelation. Some of those famous atlanta rotation stalwarts had rough spots in their early years too, and the mets youngsters are already holding their own. However, with the "bumps in the road" i wonder where the young guns will be in the playoff picture. Baring any pregame outfield sprinting mishaps, you have 3 mystical, more or less soft tossing, playoff tested vets ready to go. Taking into account who they are and/or what they've given you this year, can you not give Glavine, Hernandez and Martinez the ball?

dd - Agreed on Humber. I'd like to see him a little more consistent throwing strikes, though, and maybe learn to throw a 2-seamer and get more ground balls.
imfm - I think Pedro needs to show a little more before you hand him a playoff start, but I think you're probably right.

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