While R.A. Dickey is having a hard time replicating his success of last year, his health will still be critical to any success the Mets rotation may have this season.

In Thursday’s damp and soggy series finale in Chicago, Dickey fell in pain attempting to cover first base on a play in the third inning. Dickey was in obvious pain, and many Mets’ fans feared the worse. There was concern that Dickey ruptured his Achilles heel.

Fortunately, Dickey only has a torn plantar fascia. It sounds worse than it is. It’s a condition many athletes have to deal with. This injury boils down to just how much pain Dickey can manage. Dickey has said that he will go ahead and pitch with the pain. Dickey is scheduled to throw a side session on Sunday, and depending on how he throws he could make his next start.

How Dickey pitches in this condition will prove to be of paramount importance. The staff, already a weak point, cannot have any more injuries without it severely impacting the team.

Until Johan Santana gets back, the Mets are extremely thin in the rotation with little help in the minors.

Pat Misch was just demoted on Friday, and if Dickey finds the pain unbearable, then Misch could conceivably be recalled to the big leagues.

At this point, do we even want Misch back up, if that were to happen? He has proven to be inadequate in his time with the Mets this year (10.29 ERA, 2.14 WHIP). Perhaps, Misch isn’t suited for the bullpen and would be more comfortable starting games.

Regardless, let’s hope Misch won’t have to start for the Mets for an extended period of time.

Besides Misch, the only viable options-and it’s a stretch to consider them that-on the farm includes Chris Schwinden (3-2 with 2.36 ERA in Buffalo) and D.J. Carrasco. Remember him?

Also, remember this is a Mets’ club who already lost Chris Young for the year and also is pinning hopes that another reclamation project, Chris Capuano, can hold up for the year.

Again, Dickey has been nothing special (2-5, 4.50 ERA), but he is coming off his best start of the year against the Yankees (6 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER and 6 K’s and the victory) and he does eat innings while usually keeping the Mets in games.

With Friday’s loss to the Phillies, the Mets are now four games under .500. Now is not the time for the Mets to have to deal with an injury to one of their starting pitchers. They can scrape by and make do with replacements with Ike Davis and David Wright on the shelf.

However, starting pitching is one area where it would be very hard to get by with unproven and unreliable arms from Buffalo.

Dickey will have to take the brunt of the pain to try and keep the season afloat for the Mets. If not, us fans will have to take the brunt of the pain of watching sub-par starting pitching possibly sink the Mets.

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