Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 17, 2007
What an utter disaster this weekend was for the Mets, the only compensation being that the Phillies are still 4 back in the loss column and the Mets' last 14 games include one game with a team that's 8 games under .500 (the Cardinals), 6 with a team that's 17 under (the Nationals), and 7 with a team that's 19 under (the Marlins), whereas the Phils have three games with Atlanta, three with the Cards, 7 with Washington and none with the Marlins.
It's bad enough to lose to the Phillies on their strength - the offense really is hard to stop - and the exposing of the Mets' weakness, their middle relief. But much of the past 8 straight losses to the Phils has been the result of the Mets failing to capitalize on the Phillies' weak points (not scoring even adequately on their weak pitching staff, especially the bullpen) and being betrayed by their own strengths - the best defensive team in the league making 6 errors in a game (at one point yesterday Jimmy Rollins had induced an error or botched defensive play on five consecutive plate appearances), Billy Wagner blowing games, the best base stealing team in the league repeatedly running themselves out of innings (as Gotay and Reyes did in the pivotal sixth inning on Saturday, including Reyes' boneheaded caught stealing at third to end the inning, while Carlos Gomez failed to take a key extra base Friday night, costing the Mets the chance to win in regulation).
At this point, I'm counting El Duque out of the postseason picture until we see him make a healthy outing again; it's ironic (or worse) that after all those years of postseason glory in the Bronx he may be out or effectively useless in October two straight years with the Mets. Some of that may be that the Mets have actually expected him to hold down a rotation slot all season rather than just giving him weeks off in midsummer to stay fresh, of course.
What does that leave for the October staff? Pedro and Glavine are definitely in the rotation; Glavine has righted the ship recently after some doldrums and while Pedro hasn't been as dominating as 17 K, 4 BB and 0 HR in 16 IP and a 1.69 ERA would suggest (it's not an accident that he's allowing more than a hit an inning), he looks plenty crafty enough to deserve a rotation slot in October. For now, that suggests a rotation of Pedro-Glavine-Perez-Maine, and the bullpen would include Wagner-Heilman-Feliciano . . . but after that, who? I hate the idea of using Mota and Schoenweis in a postseason game (even Randolph has to be out of patience with Mota after yesterday), and Sosa has been in a tailspin lately. Sele has been growing cobwebs in the pen, and he's really done nothing to make me trust him. I'd like to see Joe Smith get a shot if he is completely healthy, but he needs some appearances in the majors again. Collazo and Humber are totally unproven and at this point unprovable commodities. About the only other option is Pelfrey, who has finally been putting things together lately. Pelfrey at least doesn't give up home runs, but while he's never terribly wild, he still needs to show more consistent ability to put the ball where he wants it if he is going to pitch important innings in big games.