From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
NEW YORK METS: The Mets' Loss to the Braves Today Was Just Another Rock in a Pile. But crack it open and find the gem inside.
Here's what I wanted out of tonight's game as stated in my last posting. Basically I was looking for Jon Niese tonight, and Dillon Gee (and increasingly to a lessening degree - Mike Pelfrey) to take those incremental steps towards forming a tandem (or trio) that can carry you for two and three game stretches and pitching their teams into a position to win. I call it Loosing Streak repellent.
Yesterday, Mike Pelfrey played contrarian. But I'm not asking for four 20 game winners like the old late 60's Baltimore Orioles once boasted. Instead I'm asking for these young guys to stay within themselves and provide sequentially good starts. I think they can. Unlike Pelfrey's stinker, tonight's loss against the Braves is the hic-up in the plan just as R.A. Dickey's 10 K start was. That's life in Baseball sometimes and the reasons for those losses fall far from Niese and Dickey. But the fact remains Jon Niese provided the kind of game tonight that speaks of consistency rather than about veering off course. Forget the term quality start. I call them winnable starts. And Jon Niese pitched a winnable start tonight.
If you do have any aspirations for this season, pitching is the way the Mets will make strides. A young one-two punch has won many a division over the year. But let's be clear. The Mets aren't winning the East this season. But these two; Dillon and Gee, could very well be at the start of a beautiful relationship together.
Jon Niese Line:
7.2 ~ innings pitched.
102 ~ pitches; 71 strikes.
8 ~ hits.
2 ~ runs/earned
1 ~ walk.
7 ~ strikeouts.
1 ~ home run allowed.
That's a very satisfying line. I'll take it every time. Jon Niese has now strung together three dynamite starts, as has Dillon Gee. Gee takes his turn again tomorrow. I'm not necessarily looking for wins from these guys. I'm not expecting Dillon's 6th win of the season tomorrow. As I repeat myself, I'm just looking for these guys to pitch as a staff and minimize the chances of losing streaks. Pitching always gives you that chance. But the trick here is to let these guys pitch and pitch together. Following up on each other's starts is my pet project for the day. Dillon Gee's record can't stay perfect forever. But a winnable start is a realistic goal and achievable, even for this team.
Another quick point is, now that Dillon Gee seems like he's won a place on the Big Club, they better ensure he stays here. The days of shuttling him back and forth between Flushing and Buffalo should be for all intent and purpose, over. I do not believe in yo-yo'ing young pitchers.
Development and incremental steps is all I'm asking. Niese and Gee seem to be taking everything one step at a time and the results are speaking for themselves. But Mike Pelfrey still remains the uncooperative variable in an equation in which he was supposed to be the known factor. Right now, he remains as Pitcher-X.
In a season like this; a transition season for a team on the precipice of major changes; I'm interested in the smaller projects of this team and roster. I'm anxious to have Josh Thole win over his overwhelming critics. Niese and Gee have been spoken for. Ii want Bobby Parnell to get straightened out. And I want Ike Davis back without the Mets' doctors blowing this too. Please help him before the Mets doctors destroy him.
My early season predictions for the Mets had them hovering around .500 baseball. A few games shy of that mark, they are what I thought they'd be (minus another bizarre round of injuries). So things like KRod's nightmarish outing tonight don't sweat me none. He's one of the guys we need moved anyway. If I do have a concern regarding Francisco Rodriguez, it's his steady march towards making his appearances clause which kicks in his monopoly money option.
But instead of other Met matters I'll be getting into, tonight was about seeing through another ugly loss and knowing Jon Niese is increasingly proving his worth.