The first week of the season has been one of mixed emotions. It has provided us with both sources for optimism as well as reason for concern.
Our hitting is off to a good start. Delgado has continued his offensive onslaught from last year, Beltran and Wright are definitely doing their part, Daniel Murphy is hitting just under 300 and Reyes, although a bit sluggish thus far, will soon kick it into high gear. Last season our bullpen consisted of arsonists. Rather than putting out the fires, they fueled the flames and sent us home earlier than hoped. This year, albeit only one week in, the troubles of 08 seem a distant memory. Our Bullpen ERA is a modest 2.89. Fair to say our Achilles heal, our area of uncertainty, is our starting pitching.
Johan, although just 1-1 after today’s heartbreaking defeat, is pitching like a man on a mission to win the Cy Young Award. His ERA stands at a paltry 0.71. He has allowed just 6 hits in 12 2/3 IP and has fanned 20 while walking just 5. Livan Hernandez, who had to battle to win the #5 spot, looked like an ace at the back end of our rotation. The combination of Livan and Johan pitching back-to-back all season could indeed prove unsettling for the National League.
However, it’s our middle three starters which are cause for concern. The Big Pelf, The Maine Man and Ollie have compiled an average ERA of 9.14. Not good. Not good at all. Although John Maine pitched well, he still failed to make it through 5 innings. Mike Pelfrey garnered a W but struggled, giving up 5 hits, 4 walks and 4 ER in 5 IP. And Oliver Perez showed nothing worthy of his big new contract.
Overall, I am cautiously optimistic. We played .500 on the road and that’s a good sign. A couple of key hits here and there and we could easily be returning home with a 5-1 record. Although the trio of Pelfrey, Maine and Perez leave something to be desired thus far, it is still early. One week does not a season make. Yes, John Maine failed to make it through 5 innings. However, this was his first start back since his injury. To Jerry Manuel’s credit, he used caution and did not overwork Maine. Mike Pelfrey did indeed struggle, but this was in Cincinnati, a known hitters park. Oliver Perez continues to be the source of stress amongst Mets fans. The only ones who are satisfied with him are the stockholders for TUMS. He does have pressure on him after signing the big contract and the impending boos from Mets fans if he fails to deliver. However, looking on the bright side, his 16.62 ERA will only get lower.
So with 6 games down and 156 remaining, we have reason for optimism in addition to reason to worry. But lets face it. Isn’t that what being a Mets fan is all about? It’s never easy rooting for our team, even when we win. 69 was a ‘miracle’ and 86 required a 2 out rally in the bottom of the 10th that was one for the ages. So, lets sit back and enjoy the season. There will be plenty of cause to cheer. There will plenty of cause to throw our hats at the TV. No matter what happens we are going to lose 50 games. No matter what happens we are going to win 50 games. It’s those middle 62 that make the difference. Lets buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.