After Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey, the Mets have struggled to identify secondary starting pitchers to feel confident about to fill out the rest of the rotation. When Jon Niese returned from the disabled list and pitched effectively this past Saturday, it’s apparent his spot in the rotation is safe.

After those three, the back end of the rotation is like a revolving door.

John Maine is expected to come off the disabled list next week. He is expected to pitch in a rehab game for Binghamton this weekend, followed by a second start in Buffalo before a decision is made.

Media reports suggest he will be reinserted into the rotation, which will likely bump Hisanori Takahashi back to the bullpen. Mets manager Jerry Manuel feels Takahashi is better served in the bullpen after he has been ineffective in his last two starts. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Manuel might use Takahashi as set-up man out of the bullpen.

Can the Mets trust Maine?

Too often he pitches through  pain. Remember, this is the same pitcher coach Dan Warthen called a ‘habitual liar’ when it comes to his health. This has led to tension between Maine, the coaches and the medical staff.

Well, after Tuesday, all parties are singing in harmony, after Maine threw a bullpen session and a 30-pitch simulated game. The result: normal soreness after the day’s work.

Maine is not going to overpower you with is stuff anymore, but in tight situations, he must have faith in his fastball. In his post-mortem meeting with the media Maine said his pitches had good movement and better control.

Maine insists he is healthy and wants to get back to work. Didn’t Oliver Perez try this line a few weeks ago? However, if Maine is healthy, and that’s a big if, the Mets must give him the opportunity to prove himself. If he implodes then the Maine era in Flushing may be over.

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