By Mike Steffanos
Game 58: Mets 5 - Giants 3
Nine days ago the Mets followed up a dismal road trip against Atlanta and Colorado by dropping the opener of their home series vs. the Marlins. Their record dropped to 23-26, 6.5 games behind Florida in fourth place. As a matter of fact, they were much closer to the last place Nats (2.5 games). It seemed only a matter of time before Randolph was fired, and I wondered if we were at the start of a 2002-like collapse to the season. (And by the way, that Mets team was actually 26-23 and in first place after the same number of games, en route to a 75-86 last place finish.)
While only a fool would believe that this club still doesn't have some issues, in the last nine days they have gone 7-2, had some nice come from behind wins, and saw Pedro Martinez return to the rotation. Especially when you consider how dark everything looked a few days ago, it's impossible not to feel a return of some optimism -- and that's always a welcome thing.
Of course, if the Mets are going to be a serious contender for anything this season, it will require the type of starting pitching depth that allows a team to string some wins together.
While he hasn't been setting the world on fire, Johan Santana is more than holding his own. The Mets are 9-3 in his 12 starts.
If Pedro can maintain that fastball in the high 80s, low 90s range and get the control back on his off-speed stuff, there is no reason why he couldn't win a good percentage of his starts.
Still, it takes at least 3 very solid starters to get the job done. Thankfully, John Maine continues to look like he meets that description.
Although it's a concern that high pitch counts continually keep Maine from going really deep into games, he has given the Mets at least 6 innings in 9 of his 12 starts. Contrast that with Oliver Perez (5 of 12) and Mike Pelfrey (4 of 10), and we could see Maine's value as a starter.
On the other hand, Maine has only pitched more than 6 innings twice -- 6-2/3 against Washington in April and 8-1/3 in Los Angeles last month. If Maine could somehow figure out how to cut down on the foul balls that lead to so many long at bats, he could be one of the better pitchers in the league. While walks were a contributing factor in April (5.5/9IP in 5 starts), they have become much less of a factor in 7 May and June starts (3.0/9IP).
The offense is still up and down, but they've been scoring enough to give the team a chance to win. Barring a significant trade, that seems to me all you could ask for this year, unless Carlos Delgado stumbles into the Fountain of Youth and rediscovers his bat speed.