Back in January, the Mets were looking to acquire a big name pitcher to pair up with Johan Santana at the top of the rotation. Before missing out on Derek Lowe and settling for Oliver Perez, the Mets decided to shore up the back end of the rotation by signing Tim Redding to a one year deal worth $2.25 million. At the time, some fans did not understand why this signing took place and why it was made before they signed a number 2 starter. After watching Redding’s performance against the Phillies, those fans might have their answer.
Although Redding came into this season with a career record of 34-51 and a 4.92 ERA, he had always pitched effectively against the Phillies. Prior to the 2009 season, Redding was 5-3 with a 3.29 ERA against our hated rivals, including a 3-1 record in 2008 for a Nationals team that lost 102 games. In addition to the won-loss record, Redding did an excellent job of keeping the Phillies power-hitting lineup in the ballpark, allowing only four home runs in 65 2/3 career innings. This had to factor into Omar Minaya’s thinking when he signed Redding.
Unfortunately, Redding’s first four starts for the Mets were making the non-believers ask for his head, or at the very least, a one-way ticket to Buffalo. He began the season 0-2 with an ERA hovering around 7.00. Then a funny thing happened on the way to Citi Field. The Phillies were next on the schedule and Redding added another fine performance against them. He did not factor into the decision, but he pitched seven strong innings and got many key outs. After Chase Utley ripped a one-out RBI double down the right field line in the sixth inning, Redding could have reverted to his old, ineffective ways. However, he turned it up a notch, striking out Ryan Howard and Raul Ibañez to strand Utley on second base. Then in the seventh inning, after the Phillies had tied the game at 3, Jimmy Rollins stepped up to the plate with the go-ahead run on third base. After falling behind 3-1, Redding proceeded to induce Rollins to hit a lazy fly ball to Carlos Beltran to temporarily prevent the Phillies from taking the lead.
The Mets eventually went on to lose the game on a three-run HR by Raul Ibañez in the tenth inning, but it was Redding’s performance that kept them in the game. The Phillies hit six home runs in the first two games of the series, including four off of Mets ace Johan (‘Han the Man) Santana. Following his career trends, Redding did not allow any home runs. He forced the Phillies to play small ball, a concept they’re not all too familiar with. By preventing the big inning, he afforded himself the opportunity to pitch seven good innings. Redding might not have gotten the win, but he proved that he can pitch against the big boys, especially the biggest boys of them all.
If the Mets want to end the Phillies’ two-year reign as division champions, the Mets will need Tim Redding to pitch well against teams other than the Phillies. But as long as he continues to pitch effectively against Philadelphia, I will not be worried whenever I see his name pencilled in as a starter against them.