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New York Mets Mid-Season Grades: Starting Pitchers

As the first half of the 2011 season begins to wind down, the Mets can finish no worse than .500 before the All Star break thanks to a miraculous 4-1 start to their current west coast road trip.  Incredibly, they’ve been doing it Reyes-less as the All Star shortstop books another tour on the DL merry-go-round.  Undoubtedly this is a perfect time to take a look at each member of the club and assess their contribution to the team’s surprising resilience in their efforts to remain relevant in 2011.

Starting Rotation

Chris Capuano – The Brewers castaway with the history of injury has found a home with the Mets this season as he’s battled through each of his starts and has given the club about 10 quality starts.  More importantly he has stayed healthy and even though he sports a .500 record and a 4+ ERA, Chris has undoubtedly been an extremely pleasant surprise to the rotation.  You can usually count on him for 5-6innings and 5 K’s – giving you a chance to win more often than not.  In the beginning of the season it was near certain that either Chris Young or Chris Capuano would go down at some point.  Young is long gone but Capuano still stands and the Mets are better for it.  Mid-Season Grade:  B

RA Dickey – I want to try to write this without mentioning by name the pitch he throws.  Mr. Dickey has taken the ball through a number of physical maladies this season and much like Capuano has battled to give them a chance to win in most of his outings.  Looking from the outside at the clubhouse dynamic, his calm, quiet and thoughtful demeanor a la Carlos Beltran provides a nice personality balance to the super-hyped, wild and electric Jose Reyes personas – how positive that balance may be, only the guys in there know.  Although earlier in the season it felt like the league had caught up to his unorthodox pitch as he only managed 5 quality starts in April and May, but as of late it now seems as if RA is back in form and although he may not be able to duplicate the season he had last year, he is still a solid top of the rotation starter mystifying MLB bats with his dazzling knuckler…oh darn it, knuckleball, knuckleball, knuckleball….couldn’t do it.  Mid-Season Grade:  B+

Jon Niese – The glimpse of possible greatness is there, the stellar outings are there.  True, I may be a little biased towards Jon because he works for me, he pitches for my 3rd place 20 Team Fantasy Roto-League team but I will go to far lengths in the hopes to remain neutral in this assessment.  Niese may be the true ace of this staff as he’s been able to go 7 innings in 6 of his starts eating up valuable innings, he also leads the rotation in strikeouts and has put up about 9 quality starts in his last 10 outings.  Due to his young age, no offense to Dickey or Capuano, it is even more exciting to see him look good because it bodes well for the future of the franchise.  He may not be Jon Lester just yet but I wouldn’t be laughed out of a bar if I mentioned both southpaws in the same sentence (unless the bar was in Woburn or Wa-buhn.)   Mid-Season Grade:  A

Mike Pelfrey – The toughest guy to grade because he has certainly been the weakest link of the rotation but you also have to give him credit for dealing with the harsh criticism that’s come his way since he was touted as the ace of the rotation in Santana’s absence and has barely performed as a number 5. Still, Mike has remained healthy, maybe to the Mets’ detriment and has eaten up innings both effectively and ineffectively taking the ball each day and I can honestly say the general feeling is that you just never know what he’s going to have on the mound each start.  The uncertainty is very discouraging but at the same time it almost feels like that same uncertainty plays against the team he’s facing as they also do not know which Pelfrey is showing up.  Is it the one who masterfully and maniacally gets ground outs and weaves in and out of trouble through 6 innings 3 runs or is he the human Japanese nuclear plant melting down in the 3rd inning at the first sign of trouble.  He’s been at both ends of the spectrum, is he the guy who threw a complete game vs. the Angels or is he the guy who got pulled in the 3rd inning after getting slammed for 6 by the Phils?  One never knows and the worse part is Mike doesn’t either.  Mid-Season Grade:  D+

Dillon Gee – Speaking of even-keel guys, none reflect this personality trait more than Dillon Gee.  The soft spoken right hander has been able to put together a memorable rookie campaign start, something that has been heavily and rightfully documented by most media outlets throughout the season.  How a guy who was selected in the 21st round is 8-3 with a 3.76 ERA at the break is as great as it is astounding.  .  Although he has failed to post a quality start in 3 of his last 4 outings, something that is slightly tarnishing his shine, the Mets are 11-3 in games where Gee has started and that has been a key component in keeping their heads above water. To the dismay of Omar Minaya detractors and provided he can continue his current performance, Gee is looking more and more like one of the great late round draft finds in recent history.  Mid-Season Grade:  A

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