By Mike Steffanos
Game 123: Mets 7 - Pirates 4
Yesterday I made the point about the similarity of the setup of the ninth inning to last Monday's grim loss. The Mets bullpen carried that thought a little further last night and turned what should have been a laugher into an anxious nail biter. I had to move around four or five times that inning before I found the spot with outs.
As today's game is about to start, just some quick observations:
The Mets have to decide whether they're going to use Eddie Kunz regularly or not and act accordingly. I never believed they were going to throw him to the wolves and use him as a closer -- at least until all other options were exhausted -- but it's clear that they are reluctant to use him in close games.
With an overworked bullpen as it is, keeping a guy and spotting him into only games where he can't really hurt you is a luxury that they simply can't afford right now. Moreover, Kunz is far from polished regarding his off-speed stuff and needs to pitch regularly and develop. With another bullpen arm coming in (more later on that), it would seem to me a trip back to Binghamton is in order for Kunz, unless they're prepared to throw him out there on a regular basis and live with the growing pains.
Pedro has shown remarkable improvement lately, but I'm still concerned about the homeruns allowed and lack of strikeouts. In his first two Mets seasons, Pedro was able to strikeout more than a batter an inning, even with the diminished velocity on his heater. Perhaps it's just a sign that he needs to sharpen his command on his repertoire of curves and changeups, but I'd like to see that 5.5 K/9 rate in August up a little higher before I'm completely convinced Pedro can be counted on to win big games against good offensive teams.
All those who directed the silly cheap shots directed at Jose Reyes early in the season are looking less intelligent by the day. A good baseball mind will avoid making snap judgments based on the normal ups and downs of a player's career. Sadly, there aren't enough of these folks around anymore. "What have you done for me lately?" is no longer just the specialty of a certain type of fan, now it's a style of punditry.