John Maine: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

An article by posted on June 8, 2009
Ask any Mets fan what he or she thinks of John Maine and you will most likely get a similar response. “He’s not bad.” “He’s okay.” “He has potential.” “He’s a good # 3.” Many years ago Tom Petty wrote a song entitled, ‘The Waiting (Is the Hardest Part.)’ After 80+ starts, we are still waiting for a clear cut impression of John Maine.
Some pitchers burst onto the scene and immediately have an impact, a la Doc Gooden or Fernando Valenzuela. Others sometimes take a few years to develop. However, John Maine has neither shown drastic improvement nor a huge decline in his performance. Perhaps, this is simply the best he will get. Maybe John Maine is destined to be a middle of the rotation starter and nothing more.
Maybe I was not paying as close attention as I should have been. It just seemed like Maine was having a solid season. However, I was surprised to see that after his last start, a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the Nationals, John’s ERA stood at a disappointing 4.52. With apologies ahead of time to Clint Eastwood, I’ll break down Maine’s numbers into three different categories:

THE GOOD:

After being acquired from Baltimore along with Jorge Julio in exchange for Kris Benson and wife Anna in 2006, Maine had a solid season. In 16 games, he went 6-5 with a solid 3.60 ERA, striking out 71 in 90 IP. At one stretch, Maine pitched 26 scoreless innings. This set a team record for scoreless innings by a rookie, breaking the old mark held by Doc Gooden and Anthony Young. It was also the longest scoreless streak by any Mets starter since Al Leiter back in 98.

When the Mets found themselves in the post-season, it was questionable if Maine would appear, much less start. But there he was, on the mound for Game One of the LDS against the Dodgers. Injuries to Pedro and El Duque made that possible. And John Maine answered the call with impressive numbers. In 3 post-season starts that year, he compiled a very good 2.49 ERA and struck out 13 in 13 1/3 innings. With the Mets facing elimination against St. Louis, Maine got the victory in Game 6 against future Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter to force a deciding Game 7.

The following year, Maine continued his dominance and was named NL Pitcher of the Month for April 2007.

THE BAD:

He just turned 28 and even though stats show players reach their peak between the ages of 27 and 33, Maine appears to be bucking that trend. His ERA has risen each year from 2006 to 2008: 3.60, 3.91 and 4.18. As of now, his ERA stands at 4.52. Through 10 starts this year, Maine is 5-4. He has fanned 42 while walking 34 and has allowed 51 hits in 61 2/3 innings. If this trend continues, Maine will end the 09 season with the worst W/K ratio of his young career. Assuming he will make 30 starts, since we are approximately one-third of the way through 2009, he will allow 102 walks and will also end with the worst won-loss record of his career.

THE UGLY:

Upon researching this article, I was amazed to learn something. One very disturbing fact jumped out at me. This year, Maine’s numbers are pathetic at the outset of each game. For the first 15 pitches he throws, opponents are hitting a whopping 357 against him. His ERA for those 15 pitches is 4.76. His WHIP: 2.47. However, starting with pitch 16 through the rest of the game, the opposition is only hitting a mere 209 against him.

I am curious that perhaps all he needs is a tweak in his warm-up routine. His struggles early in games is of concern and if he can settle down, he can be a force. Plus, less damage early on would allow him to pitch deeper into games. That has been his one constant downfall–not pitching deep.

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS

The increase in John’s stats are clearly of concern to the Mets as well. True, he was injured at the end of last year, but management only felt confident to sign him to a one year deal for $2.6 million. It will be interesting to see how he pitches the rest of this season and how the Mets will respond financially.

Will John Maine ever be an ace on our staff or any other staff? Probably not. He is probably destined to be a mid-line starter. Better than most, not as good as others. Looking ahead, I feel that we should sign him beyond 2009. As one can plainly see the Good outnumbers the Bad and the Ugly.

 

 

 

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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