We interrupt Alderson Avenue's regularly scheduled programming to bring you this long overdue 2010 starting pitching review.
As a unit, Mets starting pitchers were average to slightly above average in 2010. Preseason expectations were exceeded, mainly due to the emergence of one R.A. Dickey. Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana and Jon Niese were also strong, while Opening Day rotation members Oliver Perez and John Maine were not. To keep this fresh, I'll present the starters' seasons in graph form. The following are chronological plottings of each pitcher's Game Score throughout the 2010 season. It's an easy way to view the ups and downs of the pitchers. A higher Game Score is better -- for reference, Dickey's 1-hit shutout of the Phillies registered a 91, while Ollie's 3.1 inning, 7 run stinkbomb against the Marlins in May tallied a 16.
Let's keep this brief. Of this crew, Pelfrey, Niese and Dickey are projected to be in the 2011 Opening Day rotation. I think Pelfrey will maintain his 2008-2010 performance, Niese will improve and Dickey will fall off a bit. All should be above average. I'm not expecting anything from Santana and the Mets should add two starting pitchers.
Trading for James Shields or Matt Garza will be discussed ad nauseum this offseason and with good reason. The Mets should pursue both -- Shields is better but each would be a strong addition to the rotation. Fernando Martinez, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are all available in a trade. There are some decent free agent options available -- Javier Vazquez, Jake Westbrook, Carl Pavano and Jorge de la Rosa are a few. My target would be Hiroki Kuroda. Yes, he's old (36 in February) and an obvious injury risk, but he's also quite good. A two year contract in Joel Pineiro territory (~$8 million per year) might lock him up.
Gee and Takahashi are in my Opening Day bullpen, and both are capable of starting when need be. Mejia starts the season in the minors. Same with Misch. Quality depth at minimal cost is the goal here. Cliff Lee is a pipe dream and when he doesn't sign with the Mets no one should complain.
Desired 2011 starting rotation: James Shields, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese
Projected 2011 starting rotation: Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Vazquez/Pavano/Westbrook, pray for Johan