Who Leaves The Rotation If/When Johan Returns?

It is no secret that the Mets starting pitching has been outstanding this season.  The starting pitching has been one of the main reasons why the team continues to hover around .500.  As Johan continues on his road to recovery, if and when he does return sometime in the next month or so, Sandy and Terry will be faced with a very tough decision.  Who do you remove from a starting rotation that is pitching so well?

There is no doubt that Santana is the ace, and the leader of this staff.  His spot in the rotation is as guaranteed as Krod is to earn that games finished option.  But, to plug him back in you have to remove someone, and at this time nobody is pitching poorly to make it an easy call. Let’s explore who the most likely candidate would be.

To me the two most unmovable guys are Dillon Gee and Jon Niese.  Gee seems like a lock to stay in the rotation, and with the way he is pitching I think it would be foolish to mess with him right now.  The way he is going, he may very well be the 3rd or 4th starter of the future for this team.  Jon Niese is pitching outstanding as well, and with his age and potential I can’t see them touching him either.  I see Niese with the same projection of a 3rd or 4th starter on this team, and if that is the case we have the makings of a very good middle of the rotation for years to come.

Big Pelf has been better lately, but has mostly been a Big disappointment this season.  I really felt that this was the year he was going to step up.  He pitches very well, and then he hits the skids for a few starts.  He never pitches well on the road, and he always comes up small in a big spot.  You might as well just call him “small Pelf”, A.J. (Burnett) Pelfrey or Mr. Inconsistent.  Is it time to think about a potential trade for the big righty?  Or is he just removed from the rotation because everyone else is pitching better than him, and he just happens to be in Johan’s spot in the rotation as the quote on quote “ace”?

Dickey might as well be the best 3-7 pitcher in all of baseball.  Every year a Mets pitcher gets hammered by lack of run support despite pitching gem after gem, and this year is R.A’s turn.  I don’t see him being moved out of the rotation, although he is very versatile.  He can pitch out of the pen and be very valuable, but he is better suited as a starter, especially since he is signed for next season.

Finally we get to the much heralded 5th starter, Chris Capuano.  Cappy has been arguably the best starter on this team aside from Dillon Gee in the last month.  But despite that, I see him as the most logical choice to be removed in favor of Johan.

1. Capuano is a free agent at the end of the year, and with all the young guys on their way he is not part of the future.

2. He can pitch very effectively out of the bullpen, and can serve a cross-over lefty to get both righties and lefties out.

3. He is a very valuable trade candidate with the deadline fast approaching. Teams in the race are always desperately looking for starting pitching. With the way Capuano is pitching, you could easily slot him in as a number 3 starter on teams like Detroit and Texas among others.

Any way you slice it, it is a very tough decision. It is a call that could have negative reactions if you make the wrong one. With Capuano the only one not tied to the team next season, he seems like the most likely candidate to me. But, this team under Sandy may look drastically different next season so who really knows what is going to happen.

Who do you think is the most logical choice to be supplanted by Johan Santana?


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