The Mets could have upgraded the rotation this off season, but instead they chose to bring back the same 1-4 starters and fill the fifth spot with Livan Hernandez who will try to salvage the final game of the series this afternoon against the Cardinals.
Manuel was visibly frustrated and not his usual candid self during last nights post game press conference. He is clearly dismayed with his under achieving rotation.
“We can’t continue to perform and pitch in this manner and expect to be champions of this division,” Manager Jerry Manuel said after the Mets’ third straight defeat. “We’ve got to pitch better than we’re doing. It’s as simple as that.”
Other than Johan Santana, the rotation has been a disaster. Oliver Perez 7.80 ERA, Livan Hernandez 4.65 ERA, John Maine 7.47 ERA and Mike Pelfrey 8.10 have all struggled.
“If we don’t get good pitching, if we go out and win the game tomorrow, 10-9, then we still have issues,” Manuel said. “We have to eventually turn that around. Our starting pitching has to be something that we can depend on and count on, and right now, other than Johan, it’s been a struggle.”
The Mets could have gone after Derek Lowe or A.J. Burnett in the off season, but they were considered too costly by the Mets because of contract length or annual dollars. Needless to say though, either of them would have looked good as a compliment to Johan Santana right now. Even Andy Pettitte who was out there for a long time before signing a one year deal for $5 million, would have been a good addition in hindsight.
Now, the Mets must play with the hand they were dealt. Their options are few, and if they do make a move to shore up the rotation, it will now cost them prized prospects instead of just money alone.
One thing is certain though. Unless at least two of their current struggling starters make a quick turnaround in their performance and give the Mets quality innings and pitch into the seventh inning with regularity, the Mets will not win the division. As it stands now, unless the Mets can find a way to reverse the current trend, they will burn out their bullpen by the All Star break, and if that happens some jobs will be on the line.