The jubilation of the Mets Opening Day win becomes somewhat tempered tonight, when Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Edinson Volquez and the Cincinnati Reds.
The certainty and confidence we feel whenever it’s Johan Santana’s turn in the rotation is very comforting to say the least.
Dayne Perry of ESPN, wrote today that Johan Santana needs to get off to a fast start. He writes,
Perhaps no player is more essential to his team’s success than Santana. He’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s charged with carrying an otherwise dubious Met rotation. That said, this spring Santana has battled elbow problems, and early struggles will no doubt raise questions about his health. Without a healthy and vintage Santana, the Mets won’t have a chance in the competitive NL East. The early returns will be telling.
I’m not worried about Santana getting off to a fast start, and the fact Santana hasn’t lost a game in his last 18 decisions is all the justification I need.
The player or players that the Mets need to get off to a fast start are Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez.
I am absolutely certain that Santana will perform like an ace, and that Livan Hernandez will give us what we expect from a number five pitcher. Santana will be phenomenal and Hernandez will be mostly good.
It’s the other three that give me pause for concern right now. One of them needs to step up and pitch like a true number two pitcher. Maine and Pelfrey were each hot and cold this spring, but now their slates are clean. Oliver Perez gets a clean start too, but a brutal spring has everyone including Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen very concerned.
A solid start by Pelfrey tonight, will go a long way toward alleviating some anxiety. The Reds will be a good test for him. They have a good combination of young sluggers like Votto and Bruce, savvy vets like Ramon Hernandez, and pesky players like Wily Taveras and Jerry Hairston, Jr.
All eyes will be on Pelfrey tonight mostly because he was anointed the de facto number two pitcher by the Mets. It’s a big step up from number five last season to number two this season. He will have a tough act to follow whenever he takes the mound, but if he pitches anything like he did last season, I think we’ll all breathe a little bit easier.
Make us proud tonight Big Pelf!