With the signing of Chris Young, the Mets rotation appears to be set in 2011. Young was not my first choice for a bargain-basement pitcher, but at least if I squint real hard I can imagine him being a useful pitcher this season, which is more than I can say for Kevin Millwood.
Now, we are left to wonder what the Mets can get from each member of their rotation. Last year’s staff overachieved, in part due to the dimensions of Citi Field. The pitching staff in general, and the rotation in particular, is not likely to reproduce 2010’s numbers. Just missing Johan Santana is bad enough but the fact that there are question marks, whether due to injuries or other factors, for each of the five players likely to begin the year in the rotation has fans holding their collective breaths.
First, let’s look at what the starting rotation gave the club last year.
The Mets got 26 or more starts from four pitchers last year. We already know Santana will not pitch that much in 2011. What are the odds that either Capuano or Young can shoulder that load? Can Pelfrey avoid the stretches where he looks sub-replacement level? Can Dickey continue to throw that many strikes? Can the 24-year-old Niese survive the jump in innings, from 120 to 179.2, which make him a Verducci candidate?
Last year the Mets used 12 SP. We can figure on the above five, along with Santana (hopefully), Gee and Misch will make starts during the year. Plus it’s not unrealistic to expect Mejia to come up and make a start or two in September. Will those nine be enough for 162 games and 972 IP that the team’s starters gave in 2010?
Here are my guesses:
Dickey – 215
Pelfrey – 200
Niese – 150
Capuano – 150
Young – 90
Santana – 75
Gee – 50
Misch – 20
Mejia – 15
If Dickey and Pelfrey can go 30+ starts each, this rotation has a chance. The above numbers add up to 965 IP and none of the totals seem crazy to me. Perhaps no Mets starter reaches the IP totals projected above, but would you chomp at the bit to go to Vegas to bet against any one of them? Capuano is probably the most optimistic one – he threw just 66 IP in 2010.
The big question is if Capuano, Young, Santana and Gee can combine for roughly 350 IP, or what Niese and Dickey gave the club in 2010. I have them for 365.
It’s exceptionally rare for a pitching staff to use just five or six starters for an entire season. We know this year’s Mets staff will not be one of those. Sandy Alderson chose Capuano and Young to bring in this season. We should judge him by how well those two pitchers perform, both in innings and quality they deliver, along with what other pitchers in similar situations (and similar dollar amounts) did for other teams in 2011.