Tuesday, April 10, 2012

N.Y..Mets ~ Bullpen Kicks Mets into Fourth Gear

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  The Bullpen is the Decisive Factor in Amazin's Fourth Straight Win.  When is it OK to Start Bringing Up Over Usage?  Only the Starting Rotation Can Answer That.

Yeah.., this one was loosely on the Amazin side.  And I mean that in a number of ways too.  Why not start with Daniel Murphy's game winning RBI?  That's always a fun way to win.  Then there was Kirk Nieuwenhuis's first Major League home run.  That's always fun to watch as well.  David Wright continued his hot start giving fans reason to rejoice.  Our new lead-off hitter got on base twice.  My guy - Josh Thole, was 1 for 2 with two walks.  And I can't even begin to tell you how good we look in our "old" uniforms again.  And yes, we have now won our first four games of the season.

All that feel-good will overshadow a night when the meat of the order; Ike Davis; Jason Bay; and Lucas Duda; combined to go hitless in eleven times at-bat.  Batting average wise, Lucas Duda is high man hovering right at the Mendoza Line.  While Ike Davis and Jason Bay fall woefully below the infamous .200 line of futility.  But we are expecting better days ahead for at least two of those three players.  I can't say the same for Jason Bay however.  The man's career is in free-fall.

But getting back to what are currently the better aspects of the Mets' overall game - Hands down, these first four games of the season have been won by the combined efforts of the starting pitching and the bullpen.

Mike Pelfrey started and departed this game having left behind more good than negative things to talk about; albeit he left to a no decision.  But what he did was offer up the Mets' fourth consecutive quality start to bein the season.  Eight strikeout in 5.2 innings pitched speaks to the kind of stuff  Pelfrey was sporting Monday night.  But for as many Washington batters who swung and missed or looked at strike three, just as many also pounded out ten hits against the Mets' righty.

What will I take away from Pelfrey's start?  One walk allowed.  Being hittable is not only manageable, it is correctable to boot.  However, being wild is a problem.  We already know Pelfrey can certainly throw a hard "miss" pitch.  His problem has always been that he doesn't have an out-pitch.  Monday offered a little evidence Pelfrey is developing one.  But just chalk up Monday night's effort as a good quality start.

Next to climb the hill will be Dillon Gee.  A strong start by Gee would serve to fend off unsettling thoughts regarding a sophomore jinx.  But a good showing would make a resounding statement on behalf of the entire staff.  The possibilities for a second time through the rotation can then run wild through our imaginations for a day.

Last season's year long calamity, so far, has been the team's ultimate gauntlet.  The Bullpen kept the Mets afloat this time, and outlasted the Nationals in a tie game that Daniel Murphy would finally later win.  Instead of the Hold and Save situations they've been called into thus far, this time they were asked to string Washington along.  And they did, with another 3.1 innings pitched.  They are yet to surrender a run in four games.  But they already account for 13.1 innings pitched out of a total of thirty six innings played.

The only Mets starting pitcher we can say with any kind of certainty who is capable of going deep into games on a relatively consistent basis is R.A. Dickey.  Second on that list would be Jon Niese.  But  Jon has yet to prove he can consistently punch through the seventh inning.  Then, I would bring Johan back into this conversation.  Because of his rehabilitated shoulder, health-wise, he is still an unknown.  But the hope is he will get incrementally better.  But for right now, he's still a starting pitcher who needs bullpen assistance.  We'll let Pelfrey's outing speak for itself.  And Tuesday we finally get to see what Dillon Gee brings to the mound.  But if he too hits the proverbial wall by the end of the sixth inning, that just means more nightly work for the bullpen.

The Bullpen can't stay scoreless for the entire season.  They will eventually start yielding runs.  Just saying.  But for now, I'm like you - enjoying this.


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