Before I report on the bullpen, just a little info on tonight’s pitching match-up.
Orlando Hernandez will take the mound tonight and try to defeat someone who gave some Mets fans nightmares in the off-season, including Carlos Beltran. Of course I’m talking about Adam Wainwright who takes the mound tonight as a starter rather than the closer who ended our season last year in Game 7 of the NLCS.
It was Wainwright who, in the ninth inning of that fateful game, struck out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to clinch St. Louis’ 3-1 win.
El Duque will be facing the cardinals for only the second time in his career. Although he is winless in so far in June, it is by no fault of his own as the Mets failed to give him any run support. El Duque currently has a team leading 2.77 ERA, and is coming off of a no-decision in which he pitched 7 shut out innings against the Oakland A’s. He has been the Mets most consistent pitcher when he is healthy.
The bullpen should be well rested after yesterdays Mets win that was shortened due to the rain. Billy Wagner is having one of his best seasons in a decade, and along with Pedro Feliciano, who has also pitched brilliantly, they give the Mets a lethal 1-2 punch in the bullpen.
The rest of the bullpen is still trying to find it’s way. Scott Schoeneweis continues to disappoint and has looked like a first class bust so far this season. I would be surprised if he is ever allowed into a game with less than a three run lead.
Joe Smith has slipped a little since starting the season strong, and you can tell that Willie has lost some confidence in him.
The good news is that Aaron Heilman has pitched much more effectively in his last five outings, and it looks like he may have turned a corner. Guillermo Mota also has started to pitch better in his last few appearances. In his last appearance, he even hit 95 MPH on the radar gun. He could be the ace up the Mets sleeve in that bullpen.
All in all, despite Schoeneweis’ implosion, the Mets’ bullpen has taken a step forward after an absolutely awful month of May and most of June.