Thursday, April 7, 2011

What to make of the Mets?

(photo courtesy of

Through five games, the Mets are tied for second in the NL East with the Marlins at 3-2. They won two of three games against Florida in their opening series, boucing back from an Opening Day loss to win the last two.

Mike Pelfrey started on Opening Day with Johan Santana on the DL and many thought his success last season would lead to the former first-round pick taking another step forward this season. The early returns have not been promising.

The Mets are 0-2 when Pelfrey starts and 3-0 when anybody else starts. It's a small sample size, but he's allowed at least five earned runs in both of his 2011 starts and is coming off a two-inning, eight-hit, six-run debacle in Philadelphia. Pelfrey was much better at home (2.83 ERA) last season than on the road (4.95 ERA) and not coincidentally, both of his starts this season have been away from pitcher-friendly Citi Field.

Jonathon Niese, R.A. Dickey and new addition Chris Young all pitched well in between Pelfrey's starts, with Niese and Dickey picking up where they left off last season. Young was in trouble in almost every inning but has always been a pitcher who puts runners on base and makes pitches when it counts. Citi Field will help him put together a solid season barring health, which is always the concern with him.

The bullpen has been solid so far, allowing just seven runs in 19.2 innings and despite Francisco Rodriguez blowing his lone save opportunity so far, the Mets rallied to win that game in extra innings behind David Wright, who is hitting .364 with one home run, five RBI and a .962 OPS early in the season.

Ike Davis leads the team with a .368 batting average and should improve on his rookie numbers, while Willie Harris has been a surprising early-season contributor in place of the injured Jason Bay. Carlos Beltran has struggled so far, but that is no surprise while he works his way back to full-time duty.

Overall, I've been slightly impressed with what I've seen from the Mets so far, with the obvious exception of Pelfrey. Why the Mets inexplicably chose over Andrew McCutchen in 2005 because they thought Lastings Milledge (ha!) was a better version of McCutchen I will never know. When you're wrong, you're wrong.

This team showed some fight last night climbing back from Pelfrey's 7-0 deficit to tie the game in the fifth, but lost the lead right back and couldn't recover. Either way, it's nice to see a team many project for nothing show the heart to fight against the big, bad Phillies.

Most people think the Mets major competition this year will be the Nationals - for last in the NL East. I think they are far better than Washington and could even beat out the Marlins for third in the division. I don't think they can outpace Philadelphia or Atlanta, but this team has a shot to beat last year's 79-83 record and finish above .500.

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