The Mets' young season has been filled with the highest of highs (Angel Pagan drives in Jose Reyes in the 12th inning) and the lowest of lows (Kelly Johnson's grand slam off Jorge Sosa in Atlanta...I hate the freakin' Braves). Pedro was injured in his first start (but might be back sooner than projected) and Mike Pelfrey has outperformed Johan Santana!
The bottom line is that the Mets have appeared to have turned a corner in this series with the Nationals. While it might not seem like anything major has happened (other than two good wins), there have been several positives that the diehard Mets fans have noticed. First of all, the Mets re-discovered their power last night, clubbing three home runs. Second, their "questionable" bullpen has been great of late...particularly young righty Joe Smith and crafty veteran Scott Schoeneweis. Third, Duaner Sanchez pitched in an MLB game for the first time in almost two years and pitched quite well, allowing a hit in one inning of work. Last, and most certainly not least, it seems like Willie Randolph might actually be figuring out how to use the bullpen the right way (ex: Using Schoeneweis against only lefties and Smith against righties, not leaving his starters in too long, etc).
I had mentioned in the past that guest contributions were always welcome to my site, and my friend METS_LEGIONS from MetsRefugees.com has taken it upon himself to analyze the performance of the Mets young starters so far this year, particularly Mike "BIG COUNTRY" Pelfrey and John "The Gamer" Maine.
2 GAME WIN STREAK!!! BIG WINS!!!
Both times Pelfrey has started, the Mets were coming off multi-game losing streaks. Before his first start, we all had that feeling of impending doom looming in the pits of our stomachs, "Oh shit, BIG COUNTRY's first start against the Phillies after a three game losing streak? Are the naysayers right or will Pelfrey deliver?" Pelfrey stepped up and tossed five innings of two-run ball while looking like a young ace in the process.
And then on Tuesday, with the Mets coming off two bad losses to the Brewers, BIG COUNTRY throws an absolute gem. No one expected him to string together two straight W's. Pelfrey would silence all who doubted him by throwing seven innings of shutout baseball. You can't ask for anything more than that. Many groundball outs, a few swinging strikeouts, and filthy movement on his fastball made Pelfrey and the Mets look great.
Both times the Mets have needed BIG COUNTRY to stop the bleeding, and both times he exceeded expectations. His line so far is:
2-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
Then last night, John "The Gamer" Maine goes 6.2 innings, collected his first win with support from the same bullpen that spoiled his stellar effort on April 10 against the Phillies. After back-to-back two out walks in the seventh inning, Willie Randolph summoned righty-specialist Joe Smith from the bullpen. Smith caught Ryan Zimmerman looking with a filthy fastball on the outside corner. After a perfect 8th from Smith, Billy Wagner entered and set down the Nats in order to nail down the 5-2 win.
If the Mets are going to go deep into the postseason this year (hell, if they even plan on getting to the postseason), pitching will be the key to their success.
Today, Nelson Figueroa will take the mound and looks to write another chapter in the feel-good story of the year as the Mets go for a sweep of the Nationals at Shea. The revitalized offense will hopefully continue to provide run support for our pitching. This weekend the Mets travel to Philadelphia and are eager to make a statement against our arch-rivals. Massacring the Phillies this weekend would be a small step towards redeeming ourselves from last year's collapse.