Monday, February 21, 2011

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

By: Clayton Collier

   After taking a look at the three pitchers who will be the immediate impact at the front of the 2011 rotation, we will now look into the back end of the rotation and Johan Santana who will return in the later part of the season. These guys can keep a hot streak going or stop a losing stretch from continuing when the premier guys in the rotation can not get the job done. With some newly acquired arms, the back of the Mets 2011 rotation looks pretty formidable.

  The back end of the Mets rotation will feature Chris Young and either Chris Capuano or Dillon Gee in 2011. These three arms have come from utter insignificance to key pieces of the 2011 staff. While the front three arms had breakout seasons in 2010, they aren't bonafide top-tier pitchers. That said, depth is a crucial factor to the 2011 season, something these three must provide.

  Almost certain to fill the 4th spot of the rotation is RHP Chris Young. Young is the perfect example of Alderson's under-the-radar signings that have a very high reward situation. Although I would not classify Young as a low risk situation, when healthy, Young is a top of the rotation quality pitcher. He has battled injury the past few seasons, failing to complete 20 starts each of the past three season. but when he is healthy, he is locked in. Young has a career 48-34 record with a 3.80 ERA. He pitches best with little run support, a pattern he will become very accustomed to on the Mets. He has posted a 2.61 ERA when his own team scores two or fewer runs for him. Young, coming from the Padres is already used to little run support and large ballparks, if he stays healthy, could be the best off season signing of the Mets this winter.

  Chris Capuano and Dillon Gee appear to be the two major contenders for the 5th spot in the 2011 rotation.

  Capuano before 2010 had not pitched since 2007 due to injury. He came back healthy with the Brewers in 2010 and pitched to a respectable 4-4 record and a 3.95 ERA.

  Gee has never been considered a blue-chip prospect for the Mets, but with little options down the stretch in 2010, Omar Minaya decided to give him a chance. Gee flourished in his 5 major league starts going 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA. Gee had a quality start in every single one of his outings including his major league debut in which he no-hit the Nationals through his first 5 innings en route to a 7 inning gem in which he only allowed one run and 2 hits.

  Alderson and Collins may want to give Capuano the job to allow Gee to further develop, but if Gee can continue the success he had in September 2010, he would likely win the starting role.

  The best pitcher on the team is without a doubt 2-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana. The 31-year old Venezuelan native has been the ace of the staff since he was acquired from the Twins before the start of the 2008 season. Now going into 2011, Santana will start the year in Port St. Lucie rehabbing, following the surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder that sidelined him since September. Santana has since begun to rehab, starting with playing catch and soft tossing.

  The question is, is when he returns, estimated somewhere from June to July, will he still be the Johan Santana of old? Shoulder injuries like this have proven detrimental to pitchers' careers in the past, and with Santana being the highest payed player on the team, his full recovery is crucial. These questions will just have to wait until mid-season when Santana takes the the mound in orange and blue once again.

  With low expectations at an all-time high, the Mets could be looking at a few bottom-of-the-barrel arms with hidden potential, possibly catching lightning in a bottle in 2011.