Monday, January 24, 2011

Mets 2011 Rotation: A Force To Be Reckoned With. Part I

By: Clayton Collier

   With Cliff Lee heading back to Philadelphia, creating arguably the best rotation in baseball history, the Mets have their work cut out for them to have a chance at competing in the NL East. Although the Mets do not have even close to the rotation that the Phillies do, they still have a formidable staff capable of being a feared set of arms that the opposing teams would be reluctant to face.
    With the emergence of R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, The Mets have a solid 1-2-3 punch in the rotation. In 2010, the three combined for a 35-28 record and a 3.57 ERA. Originally considered back-of-the-rotation and in R.A Dickey's case, a weak contender for the bullpen, they proved Jerry Manuel, the franchise and the baseball world that they were much more than what everyone made them out to be. Now going into 2011, the Mets entire season literally relies in the palm of this trio's hands.

    Mike Pelfrey enjoyed the best season in his career in 2010. Former skipper, Jerry Manuel declared Pelfrey the 4th starter behind John Maine, Oliver Perez and Johan Santana prior to Opening day of the 2010 season. Instead of complaining and being discouraged, Pelfrey took it upon himself to prove Manuel wrong; and that he did. Pelfrey busted out of the starting gate with a dominant 4-0 start with a microscopic 0.69 ERA to match en route to a 15-9 season with a 3.66 ERA. Pelfrey has been declared the ace of the staff and has been named the opening day starter in the absence of Santana do to his shoulder injury.  At 27, Pelfrey still has yet to enter his prime. If the Mets can assemble a consistent offense capable of decent run support, Pelfrey could be a future 20-game winner for the Mets in the near future. In 2011, you can expect an even better 2011 campaign from Pelfrey.

  Robert Allen Dickey was originally a first round pick and a highly touted prospect in the Rangers organization before a photo revealed his throwing arm was missing an ulnar collateral ligament. After which Dickey converted to the knuckleball, having little success until he signed a minor league contract with the Mets. Dickey failed to make the major league roster out of Spring Training, being demoted to a Triple-A starter where something just clicked. Dickey was called up following a one-hitter in which he gave up a hit to the first batter he faced then proceeded to retire the following 27 hitters he faced. Dickey would dominate the majors finishing the season with a 11-9 record and a 2.84 ERA. His 2.84 ERA would rank 10th among all of baseball, pretty good for a minor league signing that was mocked on Loudmouths prior to Spring Training of 2010.

   Jon Niese started spring training competing for a job in the rotation with Fernando Nieve. Needless to say, the 24-year old southpaw won the job and Nieve wound end the year in Triple-A Buffalo. Having never had any major league success prior to 2010, Niese had to prove that he belonged in the rotation, and that he did. In the first two moths of the season, Niese had a 3.10 ERA. Niese would struggle with inconsistency throughout the season, ending the year 9-10 with a 4.20 ERA. Although Niese is not on the same level as Pelfrey and Dickey, he is still a young pitcher with a great deal of potential, much of which has yet to have been fully reached. Hopefully Niese can reach his full potential in 2011.

  With most of the Mets roster in complete and utter uncertainty, the success of Pelfrey, Dickey and Niese is both crucial and to be expected come Opening Day of 2011.

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