Pelfrey, Perez and Maine – Easy As 2, 3, 4 ?

Mets fans will never stop hoping for the best possible results this season, especially before the games even begin.  Our desire to root for a winner is so great, oftentimes blinding us to the realities of the situation.  We hope that Reyes and Beltran will return on schedule.  We hope that our starting pitchers will pitch to their potential.  We hope…

Hope is high.  Expectations are low.  There are the optimists and pessimists, as well as the realists and delusional.  The truth is that we cannot predict with any degree of confidence, what the 2010 season will bear.  If one of our pitchers has a good spring training outing are hopes rise.  And they fall precipitously after a bad outing.  Perez’s Saturday outing of 4 innings of no hit, 2 walk ball is the perfect example.  If only he could pitch like this every time.

Three of our biggest question marks for this season are Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, and John Maine.  They are penciled in as our #2, 3, and 4 starters.  We can guess all we want about how many wins they will combine for.  My prediction of between 20 and 45 wins is not very useful.  The low end would likely spell the doom of fourth or fifth place and the upper end would surely have the Mets competing for at least the wild card.

Here’s a somewhat different take on the situation.  Hoping that three out of three, Pelfrey, Perez and Maine, will all have successful, productive seasons might be one of the more delusional wishes of Mets fans.  But how about the chances of two of them succeeding at a high level.  Two out of three ain’t bad.  That would certainly result in a significant improvement over last year’s combined record of  20-22.  Having Santana and two of Pelfrey, Maine and Perez pitch well would give the Mets three solid starters.  The other two slots would have to get filled through trial and error as the season progresses.  But a more potent offense could well overcome some weakness in the bottom of the rotation.

Whether due to injury or ineffectiveness, very likely some type of Plan B will be necessary for the #4 and #5 starter spots in the rotation.  It should turn into quite a competition.  This spring, already Jon Niese, Fernando Nieve, and now Ken Takahashi have been anointed the leader for the #5 spot.  Nelson Figueroa continues to pitch well and is hoping for a shot as is Pat Misch.  There could still be a trade.  Could Jenrry Mejia pitch well enough in the minors to be promoted by mid-season as a starter?

Here’s my short scouting report on Pelfrey, Perez and Maine.  All three have reported to camp healthy and are eager to show that they can be impact pitchers this year.

Mike Pelfrey is certainly young enough to comeback from his disappointing season last year.  He has reported to camp, having lost 25 lbs over the winter and feels great. Mike has unveiled a new 3rd pitch, a split finger fastball, which replaces his ineffective changeup. He has already used it successfully in his last outing when he struck out three Red Sox batters.  However, his best pitch, the hard sinker has not been good.  It has been flat and catching too much of the plate.  This has been the root of his problems throughout his career.

Oliver Perez is in the best shape of his life.  Although we’ve heard this before about many a player, it seems that Ollie has indeed worked extremely hard this winter in preparing himself for the upcoming season.  His knee is healed, although I for one am skeptical of it being the cause of his problems last season.  For Ollie it is all about mechanics and discipline on the mound.  He must significantly decrease his walks, not drop down so much, and stay away from the middle of the plate.  He must be able to accomplish all this and still maintain low 90s velocity on his fastball.

John Maine is hoping that the shoulder trouble that has plagued him over the last two years is over.  He’s said he feels great.  Maine’s strength is in his power arm.  His difficulty over his career is his inability to finish off batters.  Too many foul balls raise his pitch count not allowing him to go deep into games.  Some have suggested that Maine be moved to the bullpen as an 8th inning set up man.  If he is unable to eat enough innings as a starter, working in relief might be worth a try.

“Pelfrey, Perez and Maine – Instead Pray for Rain”?

Let’s HOPE not.  Let’s keep our expectations low, but hope for the best.