Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pelfrey one of few early Mets bright spots

I was at the Met game yesterday (yes, a change from the three Yankee games I went to last week) and I must say, Mike Pelfrey looked awesome. I know the Cubs lineup is far from intimidating, but Pelfrey threw his second straight shutout after a 7-inning gem in Colorado last Thursday. The Rockies don't have a world-beating lineup either, but there aren't many teams in the National League that do.

Pelfrey struggled through the first two innings last night, putting men on base and throwing almost 40 pitches. But he got out of early trouble and was able to get through five more innings in just about 60 pitches. This season looks to finally be the breakout for the 26-year-old former first-round pick.

A solid season from Pelfrey couldn't come at a better time for the Mets, whose desperate search for a number-two starter behind Johan Santana may very well be over. The real question is now whether Jonathon Niese, Oliver Perez or John Maine can step up and take over the third spot in the rotation. If that happens and Pelfrey continues his strong start, this team won't be quite as bad as everybody thinks.

The problem for the Mets is a lot of "ifs" need to come together for them to have success. Outside of the starting rotation question marks, nobody knows for sure if Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran can stay healthy for an entire season, and Beltran won't even be on the field until May at the earliest.

If Jason Bay can bust out of his early-season slump and if Jeff Francoeur can continue his hot start and reach the potential scouts saw in him four years ago, the Mets could have a potent lineup with Reyes in the leadoff spot followed by Luis Castillo, David Wright, Beltran, Bay, Francoeur and recent call-up Ike Davis. When healthy and performing up to expectations, the Mets could actually field one of the better lineups in the National League.

Combine that with Santana and Pelfrey, who could each win 15 games this season, and the Mets could actually play their way into contention in the NL East. They are nowhere near as good as the Phillies but I think most Mets fans would take an 80-win season out of this bunch.

It may be a longshot, but I've seen lots of ifs come together before. At the least, maybe they will be bearable to watch when the Yankees are idle or on a West Coast trip.

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