What’s In A Name?

An article by posted on September 8, 2008

Okay, fellow Mets fans. I would like an honest opinion on this. Before I mention the name, what do you think of these stats for a pitcher: 177 hits allowed in only 153 innings, an ERA of 6.27 and a record of 10 wins and 10 losses. I would say these stats are less than stellar and do leave something to be desired. Now, if this was some little known player with the name of Fred Smith or something, fans would be calling for him to be sent down or traded. However, these stats belong to a pitcher named Pedro Martinez.

Yes, these are the stats of Pedro going back to June 28, 2006. For over 2 years now, Pedro has hardly been a shell of what he once was. He has shown that he is a very old 36. Sunday night we needed Pedro to turn back the clock. We needed him to show he still has something left in the tank, a little extra he can reach back for in a big game situation. He did not come through. A win would have pushed the Phillies 3 games back with Santana poised for the nightcap. Instead, Pedro didn’t give us what we needed. He did not give us a quality start, he did not keep us in the game. What he did give us was 7 hits and 6 earned runs in just 4 innings and forced Jerry Manuel to get 5 innings out of an already tired and overworked bullpen. As 36 year old Pedro watched from the dugout after being hooked, he saw 45 year old Jamie Moyer, 9 years his senior, baffle Mets hitters.

Pedro has battled injuries since 2006 and this seems to be a battle he is losing. It seems that his next start is always ‘in question’ and after each start, we always wonder how he is holding up. After missing the bulk of the end of the 2006 season and being unavailable for the post-season that year, he missed almost all of 2007. When he did return in Sept of last year, he was effective. But when you remove his brief 28 innings pitched for all of 2007, the numbers I mentioned above become even worse. In 125 innings, he allowed 144 hits and 88 runs for an unacceptable 7.04 ERA. His record drops to 7-10.

One other thing that has me bewildered about Pedro is the fans reaction. I’ve posted blogs before, strongly criticizing though who are quick to ‘BOO.’ Supposed fans who ride certain players without mercy. Throughout this turbulent season, many Mets have felt the scorn of the media and fans. ‘As Reyes goes, so go the Mets.’ But whenever Reyes may have a few bad days, people criticize him and attack him for “not having his head in the game.” Carlos Beltran, a true 5-tool player and future Hall of Famer, has been ridiculed for “taking too many pitches.” Johan Santana, who has been everything we’ve hoped for and could easily be close to 20 wins had it not been for our bullpen, has been criticized for not ‘acting like an ace.’ Carlos Delgado got booed without mercy the first half of this season and fans were calling for him to be benched. Delgado, now with 33 HR’s and 100 RBI’s, has not been booed too much recently.

Or how about the guy that causes every fan to shudder whenever he walks to the mound, Aaron Heilman? Consider this fact: Yes, Heilman is a reliever and not a starter. If Pedro gives up a couple of runs, it’s not as bad since he will be around for several innings. If Heilman gives up a couple of runs, it’s awful cause he is only pitching one inning a game…if that. However, Heilman’s numbers are comparable to those of Martinez and some are even better. For the year, Pedro’s ERA stands at 5.44. Heilman at 5.18. Pedro has allowed 103 hits in 91 innings while Heilman has given up 71 hits in 73 innings. Batters are hitting 282 against Pedro this season. They are hitting 254 against Heilman.

Pedro’s unreliability also poses a very difficult question for the Mets skipper. If we manage to make the post-season, should Pedro be used as a starter? We obviously will go with Johan and Oliver Perez. Mike Pelfrey is slated to go well over the innings pitched for the season that management intended for him. (This resulting from the injury to John Maine.) Pitching Pelfrey in the post-season would only serve to increase the workload on a young and valuable arm. People will argue that Pedro HAS to be used a starter in the post-season. They will claim he ‘knows’ how to win. But does he? In a short series, where each game counts and there is no room for error, can we really afford to start a pitcher with a 6.27 ERA over the last 2 seasons? Getting back to the point I made earlier, if the mythical Fred Smith had a 6.27 ERA, there would be no doubt he would be relegated to long relief, or perhaps even left off the post-season roster completely. But yet, because the name is Pedro Martinez, no one would even suggest that.

About the Author ()

A Mets fan since 1973, Rob was born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Luckily, his parents moved to Queens at a young age so he was not scarred by pinstripes. Currently living in Las Vegas, he writes crime fiction and mysteries.

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