While it seems Johan Santana has found his groove again, and the Mets getting great contributions from Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, the Mets rotation always seems to have a weak link(s) during stretches of the season.
It is now Mike Pelfrey and Hisanori Takahashi that are struggling. Pelfrey has struggled in his last two starts. In 9 1/3 innings pitched he has allowed 11 earned runs and 21 hits. In the end, I expect Pelfrey to bounce back and perform more like he was pitching in April and May, but these latest outings are alarming.
Takahashi is starting hit a rough patch too, and maybe it’s best he goes to the bullpen for good. In his last three starts, Takahashi has given up 15 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings pitched. Every second or third time through the batting order, Takahashi tires and gives in to the hitters.
In Sunday’s win over the Washington Nationals, Takahashi proved true to that theory. Through the first five innings he was cruising with an 8-0 lead. In the fifth, after allowing Nyjer Morgan and Christian Guzman to get on base, Takahashi served up a three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. He was removed, leaving five Met pitchers had to finish the game.
With Thursday an off day, the Mets have decided to skip Takahashi’s spot in the rotation as the Mets face the Braves this weekend in a key NL East showdown. Takahashi will now be available in the pen for that series and with the All-Star break ahead, the Mets can use a four-man rotation.
This move couldn’t have been more timely as the Met are carrying three catchers and they can use all the help in the bullpen. For the most part the bullpen has done its part, and the addition of Takahashi to the unit will only help.
With all that said, I am not suggesting, but imploring the Mets to go out and get Cliff Lee.
The Mets must know they have a shot. What other reason are the Mets carrying three catchers for than for them to showcase prospect Josh Thole.
It has been reported that if the Seattle Mariners trade Lee they would want a catching prospect in return. It is for that reason that the Minnesota Twins are considered the frontrunners. Since the Twins have Joe Mauer locked up for years, their other prized catching prospect Wilson Ramos has become a bargaining chip.
While he is not a prospect on par with Ramos, Thole has shown he can slap the ball to all parts of the field and get on base. So far this season, Thole has hit 5-10 while driving in four runs.
But the deal to get Lee is not exclusively about Thole, but other prospects, and this is where Jenrry Mejia comes into play. If Mejia’s rotator cuff holds up and gets back on the field soon, the Mets should package him along with Thole and Angel Pagan to get this deal done.
Heck at this time, I would even trade Niese to get Lee. Lee is that good.
Lee has allowed six walks in 103 2/3 innings pitched. In his last four starts (all wins), Lee has pitched three complete games with his last being an eight-inning masterpiece where he gave up one run while striking out 11 batters.
The Mets saw firsthand what Lee can do to a team’s staff and overall makeup as his pitching got the hated Philadelphia Phillies to another World Series. Lee carried the Phillies in 2009. Remember how Cole Hamels struggled last season? Lee was their ace, their rock. Just imagine his value to the Mets.
Every fifth day you get a lock down ace in Lee. Every fifth day you get an ace getting back into form in Santana. Every fifth day you get a guy who won’t feel much pressure while also exceed expectations in Pelfrey. Every fifth day you throw out an emerging ace in Niese (5-1 in last seven starts with an ERA just over 2.00).
That has the makings of a playoff staff and one that could surpass the Atlanta Braves atop the NL East. This weekend’s series against the Braves could prove to be monumental in the makeup of the team.
Yes, the staff as currently constituted can still contend for a playoff spot. And yes, the Mets can possibly trade for another decent starter at a reduced cost. (Newsday’s Ken Davidoff reports the Mets are interested in the Chicago Cubs Ted Lilly).
However, a move for Lee can put the Mets over the top. It could be a move that irritates both the Phillies and the Yankees. It could cause a splash that could send ripples up and down the Hudson River.
And let’s not worry about whether you can sign him next off-season. Leave that for another day and try to win a championship today.
Isn’t that what you play for?