July 7, 2010. With the All-star break less than a week away, the Mets find themselves still in the thick of the hunt for the division lead. Before the season began, the general consensus had them pegged as a .500 team. Their pitching was suspect, but their offense was expected to keep them afloat, including an expected return of Carlos Beltran at the beginning of May.
Today, despite the absence of Beltran and a slow start by the offense, timely and effective starting pitching the Mets find themselves 10 games above .500(47-37) and 2 games behind the division leading Braves. The Braves pitching has been superb all the way around and the comeback season from Troy Glaus as well as a solid first half by rookie sensation Jayson Heyward and Martin Prado have led the offensive charge. The Phillies have been fighting injuries the whole first half and will have to endure an a lengthy DL stint by Chase Utley until September.
Though the Mets have received some great performances from R.A Dickey (6-1) and Hisanori Takahashi (7-3) their relief loses some length with both as starters. Jonothan Niese (6-2) going into tonight, has been solid and appears to improve with each outing. Pelfrey has hit a rough patch the past 3 starts but is (10-3) so far which tells you why the Mets have been successful. Johan Santana(6-5) has given up 1 run in his last two starts covering 16 innings and appearing comfortable again since surgery last year. With Beltran’s pending return following the break, the bench gets stronger with Angel Pagan(.300) and Jeff Francoeur splitting time in rightfield.
Will this be enough for the Mets to make a playoff run? If they go after Cliff Lee they will certainly have to give up prospects and he will still, be a free agent in the fall. If the Mets could hold onto Neise who is a rookie still, then any of the other prospects would have to be considered viable chips(Mejia, Thole, Martinez , or Tejada).Will Johan be the dominant second half pitcher his resume indicates he’ll be? Does Pelfrey get back on track and does Niese continue to grow as a solid young lefthander? As presently constituted, i think the Mets need more relief pitching to get to the wildcard and I am sure the Mets are looking and listening to the rumors and seeing what is available. I would welcome Cliff Lee with arms wide open, but then you better be the team to lock him up in the winter,
Who knows? It has been fun so far and with 78 games to go…anything can happen!