First Half Mets Grades – Pitchers

Yesterday I looked at the Mets hitters and how they’ve performed in 2010, today let’s take a look at the pitchers. 

Johan Santana: B

It’s hard to make sense of Johan Santana’s season so far.  He’s clearly no longer the Johan Santana that dominated the American League from 2004-2007.  He’s not the same pitcher he was for the Mets in 2008 either.  His strikeout rate has dropped steadily, to where he’s no longer striking out even six batters per nine innings, while the walkrate has jumped to where he’s issuing almost 3 per game.  His home run rate has dropped, but that could at least be partially attributed to Citi Field.  Yet he has looked dynamic the past few starts.  Was he tipping his pitches?  Has he been slow to recover from elbow surgery?  Are we going to see the old Johan Santana in the second half?  That’s a lot more question marks than you’d like for the team’s highest paid player, especially when he will likely remain the team’s highest paid player until 2014.

R.A. Dickey: B

The strange part about R.A. Dickey’s amazing resurgence this season is that it seems to be completely legitimate; it’s not being propped up by a lucky string of starts without strikeouts or walks.  He’s sporting a solid strikeout rate (6.7/9), a good walk rate (2.6/9) and a nice groundball percentage (55%).  That said, all of those rates would represent career highs for Dickey at the age of 35, which doesn’t happen too often.  He’s been a great story and I hope he can keep it up, but “hoping” and “expecting” are two different things.

Jonathon Niese: B

Niese might be the unsung hero of this Mets pitching staff.  Mike Pelfrey has gotten the headlines, Johan Santana has the ace pedigree, R.A. Dickey has the comeback story, but meanwhile, all Jon Niese has done this year is deal.  He leads the starters in K/9 with a robust 7.3, he’s walking a shade under 3 per nine, roughly one out of every two batted balls against him has been on the ground…basically, he’s done everything you’d expect an ace starter to do but without the headlines.  The only thing that kept this grade from being higher was the time he missed due to injury, but don’t be fooled; Jon Niese is the truth.

Mike Pelfrey: B-

No, Mike Pelfrey did not belong on the All Star team, though as a fan of Big Pelf, it would have been pretty cool to see him on the team.  But he’s not an elite pitcher yet; he still walks too many guys.  His last three starts, none going past the fifth inning, seemed to be more of a correction than anything else as his peripherals did not support his ERA.  Of course, he also had Alex Cora back in the infield for those past three starts, which also may explain why his hit rate jumped.  If he’s to become a legitimate staff ace, he will have to dial back on the walks.

Francisco Rodriguez: C+

At least Frankie isn’t as bad as he was last year.  I still don’t feel remotely safe with a lead in his hands, and thanks to the wording of his contract, I now root for the guy to get hurt so we won’t have to pay out that vesting option.  Let’s just move on, I don’t like talking about him.

Hisanori Takahashi: C+

High strikeout total, but it comes with a high walk total, and Taka doesn’t seem to know what a groundball is, which can lead to the ugly outing when those fly balls go over walls.  I have to think at some point, he’s going to wind up in the bullpen again, as that seems to be how team views him, but you can do worse as a #5 starter than Taka.

Pedro Feliciano: C

Having another typical Pedro Feliciano season, right down to the manager foolishly believing he can retire right handed hitters (.319/.430/.389/.819 vs RHP, .254/.309/.365/.674 vs. LHP).  The walk rate improvement from last year looks like an aberration as he’s back to walking ~4 per nine again this year, and the increase in line drive rate is worrisome (26.7% of batted balls have been line drives, when he’s been in the 15-20% range for the previous four seasons), but other than that, same ol’ Perpetual Pedro.

Raul Valdes: C-

Was strangely effective for a while there until he had a couple of bad outings and Jerry Manuel lost faith in him, shuffling him off to Buffalo.  He’s back on the roster now but only made one appearance in six games during last week’s homestand, indicating that Manuel still has no faith in him.  It’s too bad, he’s probably not a bad pitcher and is likely capable of an increased role, but in Jerry Manuel’s bullpen, you are either overworked or not worked at all with no in between, so maybe for the benefit of Valdes’ left arm in the long run, this is a good thing.

Elmer Dessens: C-

Elmer Dessens absolutely amazes me.  Not just because he’s still in the major leagues against all odds, but that somehow the absolute slop he has thrown hasn’t caught up to him yet.  I mean, how can a pitcher average under 4 strikeouts per nine innings and somehow survive in the majors?  Of course, it helps when you’re a flyball pitcher who has yet to give up even one home run after 18 innings.  Once the wind patterns start working against Elmer, expect him to be sent back to the glue factory in short order (I know, I know, that was hack stuff).

Jenrry Mejia: F

This F isn’t for Mejia, though.  It’s for the Mets front office who stupidly listened to Jerry Manuel’s begs and please to bring Mejia north with the ballclub this year, rather than allowing him to continue to refine his secondary stuff in the minor leagues.  Once Mejia proved himself incapable of seizing the job as Manuel’s 8th inning man (probably the best thing that could have happened to his arm, in retrospect), he was allowed to rot in the dungeon that is Jerry Manuel’s Bullpen Doghouse, meaning you get used whenever Manuel feels like it with no rhyme or reason.  That is no way to handle a prized prospect’s arm, and I hope Jenrry Mejia never pitchers for Jerry Manuel again.  In fact, I hope that if Jenrry Mejia ever becomes a star (and that’s only a 50/50 chance at best in this organization, despite his talents), he spends the rest of his life trying to ruin Jerry Manuel’s life.  I’m talking, I hope he takes his wife, his kids, his car, his house, his dog, everything.  He’d be completely justified after Manuel tried to ruin his career while trying to save his own.

John Maine: F

I’ll admit it; I thought Maine could come back.  I was wrong, he’s never going to be good again.  I don’t know if he was overused by Willie and then by Manuel, or if he misses Rick Peterson, or if 2007 was simply a mirage, but Maine will never pitch well in a Mets uniform again.  Time to cut the cord.

Ryota Igarashi: F

His success in Japan just hasn’t translated to the United States yet.  I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll see a better second half out of Iggy.

Oliver Perez: F – - -

For all the same reasons that I gave Alex Cora his grade yesterday, Oliver Perez gets his today.  I hope I never see him pitch in a Mets uniform again, but I know I’ll be disappointed on that front, probably sooner rather than later.

Fernando Nieve: G

There aren’t enough -’s for me to give Fernando Nieve, so he gets a G.  I don’t know how many more opportunities he deserves to prove that he sucks, but it’s apparent that he will keep getting chances because this alleged scouting organization sees something in his arm that has yet to provide results in any tangible way.

Bobby Parnell, Tobi Stoner, Sean Green, Manny Acosta – Incomplete

Parnell gets to be the next victim of Jerry Manuel’s 8th Inning Arm Destroyer System; horray for him!  Tobi Stoner was called up in the aftermath of the 20 inning game and made one appearance that you have already forgotten about.  Speaking of forgotten, who remembered that Sean Green was still on the team?  Acosta probably deserves another shot in the majors ahead of guys like Nieve, but isn’t anything to get terribly excited about, either.

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