For the past five years or so, the Mets have had plenty of pitching woes. Since Pedro Martinez' first sustained injury, in 2006, and continuing to the present day, the Mets have used a variety of fill-ins to toe the rubber every fifth day, while waiting for whoever the injured pitcher du-jour was.
In some cases, the fact that we haven't had a normalized pitching rotation (for whatever reason) never came back to bite us in the ass. The 2006 season is an example of this- the offense was hitting on all cylinders, and the rest of the division was not able to compete with that, making our lack of a true fifth starter negligible. In other cases, it most certainly did- would we have clinched a playoff berth in 2007 and/or 2008 if fewer starts were made by scrub pitchers?
In order to make the list, a player needs to meet a few criteria. Firstly, he needs to have started between two or more games. This eliminates "one-shot wonders"- Raul Valdes (2010), Fernando Nieve (2010), Tony Armas (2008), Brian Stokes (2008), and Chan Ho Park (2007).. The player also had to have started fewer than 10 starts- any more, and I'd consider them mainstays in the rotation, as opposed to temporary stopgaps. This eliminates R.A. Dickey (2010), Nelson Figuroa (2009), Tim Redding (2009), and Jorge Sosa (2007). Lastly, the player must never have been a prospect of relative value. This eliminates Jenrry Mejia (2010), Dillon Gee (2010), Jonathon Niese (2009), Phil Humber (2007), and Mike Pelfrey (2006).
Recently, I've heard a lot of fans criticizing, complaining about, and lamenting the fact that Sandy Alderson went out and traded for Chin-Lung Hu, and signed Boof Bonser. Some of these people were, a year before, criticizing, complaining about, and lamenting the fact that Omar Minaya went out and signed R.A. Dickey the year before. Nobody expects Chin-Lung Hu, or Boof Bonser to be world-beaters who will carry the team to the playoffs (only a select few knew the awesomeness that would be R.A. Dickey before the season started). These relatively minor moves are made specifically for team depth reasons. If, between 2006 and 2010, the Mets possessed more pitching depth in the Minor Leagues, the team might have won a few more games, and the outcome of entire seasons might have been different.
After the jump, let's take a trip down memory lane, and revisit the performances of the various schnooks that made starts for us between 2006 and 2010...
Known as "Jeremi Gonzalez" while with the Mets, he made three starts in 2006, throwing 14 innings in total. In those 14 innings as a starter, he gave up 21 hits and 12 earned runs, while walking 6 and striking out 8. Tragically and bizarrely, Geremi Gonzalez died on May 25th, 2008, at the age of 33, after being hit by a bolt of lightning in his native Venezuela.
Jose Lima sucked horribly as a Met, where he made four starts. In those four starts, he threw only 17.1 innings, but gave up a mind-numbing 25 hits, and 19 earned runs (four of which came from a grand slam hit by Dontrelle Willis). He walked 10 batters, while striking out 12. Despite all of that, though, "Lima Time" was always a fun and exciting time, because Lima was so eccentric, to say the least. Tragically, Jose Lima died a few years later, in May 2010, of a massive heart attack; he never fulfilled his goal to become a bachata singer.
Soler burst onto the scene in 2006 pretty rapidly, and faded back into obscurity just as fast. In about a month, spanning the end of May and the beginning of July, Alay Soler started eight games, the highlight of which was a shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 10th (Remember the days when the team had eight-game winning streaks?) in which Soler outdueled eventual Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. Soler's brief MLB career came to a crashing end when he pitched back-to-back games against the Red Sox and Yankees in which he allowed 8 earned run games. In total, Soler pitched 45 innings, and gave up an amazing 50 hits, and 30 earned runs, seven of which were home runs. He walked 21 while striking out 23.
Williams made five starts for the team in 2006, and, all in all, was surprisingly effective- three of those starts were quality starts. For the year (with the Mets, since he was acquired in August from Cincinatti), Williams pitched 28 innings, giving up 39 hits and 18 earned runs (including 11 hits and 9 earned runs in a doozy of a game on September 11th, against the Marlins, where he lasted only three innings). He walked four, and struck out 16, giving him a K/BB ratio of 4:1.
As the dog days of Summer began coming to and end, the Mets turned to Brian Lawrence to shut down opposition every five days. Between August 2nd and August 27th, Lawrence made five starts, and on September 17th, he had a one-time-only encore performance. During his initial stint as a starter, Lawrence struggled to throw more than five innings, doing so only once. He gave up plenty of hits, but was able to limit the damage, and never gave up more than 5 earned runs in a single game. In his encore performance against the Nationals in late September, Lawrence failed to disappoint, lasting 3.1 innings, while giving up 6 hits and 4 earned runs. For his tenure as a starter, Lawrence pitched 29 innings, giving up a whopping 43 hits and 22 earned runs. He walked 13 batters, struck out 18, and threw one wild pitch.
Jason Vargas had one hell of a year in 2010, with the Mariners. Unfortunately, he did not have similar success in 2007, with the Mets. He started two games for the team in 2007, one on May 17th against the Cubs, and the other on July 3rd, against the Rockies. Against the Cubs, he pitched seven innings, scattering six hits and two strikeouts. He was tagged for 5 runs (allowing two home runs), but the Mets offense managed to bail him out, with a 6 to 5 victory. In his second start, he didn't fare as well- in 3.1 innings, Vargas gave up 11 hits, two walks, and 9 earned runs (once again, he allowed two home runs) on route to a lopsided 11-3 loss. Vargas, in total, pitched 10.1 innings, and gave up 17 hits and 14 earned runs (4 were home runs), while walking 3, striking out 4, and uncorking 1 wild pitch.
The Mets didn't learn in 2006 that Dave Williams was not a very good pitcher, and trotted him back out there in 2007 as well. Unfortunately, each individual start in 2007 mattered a lot more than each individual game in 2006, when the Mets had a commanding lead over the division the entire season. Williams made only one start, but he sure made it count- in 3.1 innings, he gave up 10 hits and 8 earned runs (one home run), on the way to an eventual Mets loss against the Houston Astros, on July 8th- good for a 21.60 ERA
Between May 14th and May 28th, Claudio Vargas made four starts. All in all, he did adequate. His first start against Washington, he gave up three hits, four walks, and two runs over 6.1 innings, good enough for a standing ovation by the Shea faithful when he was pulled. The "magic" didn't last very long, though Vargas certainly didn't crash and burn horribly. All in all, he pitched 24 innings, giving up 17 hits and 12 earned runs (good for a 4.50 ERA). He walked 8, and struck out 12.
Brandon Knight made two different starts in 2008- one was made on July 26th, against the Cardinals, and the other was made in the heat of the 2008 race for the NL East/Wildcard on September 17th, against the Nationals. In both starts, the results were more or less the same. Knight lasted only 5 innings, giving up 7 and 6 hits respectively, and allowing 4 and 2 earned runs, respectively. Combined, Knight threw 10 innings as a starter, allowing 13 hits, 6 walks, and six earned runs, all while striking out 9.
Misch was used in relief for the majority of the year, but as the injuries piled up, he was given a spot in the pitching rotation towards the end of the year. Misch made seven starts, and wasn't half bad. The low point as a starter that year was a game against Atlanta on September 21st, where he lasted only 1.1 innings, and served up eight earned runs. His very next start, however, was the high point of his year, as he threw a complete game shutout against the Marlins while in Miami. For the year, Misch threw 40.1 innings, while giving up 44 hits, and 20 earned runs. He walked nine, and struck out 10.
Though five seasons in the Minors, Parnell didn't seem like anything too special- a 4.05 ERA, with struggles everywhere except for Brooklyn and A-class St. Lucie. He was steadily promoted through the system, and after the Johan Santana trade, was among one of the best MLB-ready "prospects" the team had. After being used as a reliever for most of the year, he was stretched back out to be used as a starter for a string of eight starts between the end of August and the beginning of September. Parnell did not particularly respond, and pitched fairly terribly. He gave up 32 earned runs and 48 hits in 36.1 innings, including two starts where he allowed 9 hits and at least 8 earned runs (August 19th, against Atlanta, and August 29th, against Chicago). He walked 21 batters and struck out 31.
Everyday Nieve, as he would become in 2010, started seven games for the Mets between June 6th and July 19th. Unlike most of the other pitchers on this list, Nieve didn't actually pitched pretty decently. In his seven starts, he pitched a total of 34.2 innings, giving up 36 hits, and 12 earned runs (good for a 2.95 ERA). He walked 19, while striking out 21. Four of his seven starts were quality starts, and the most he was rocked for was for three runs in 3.1, 5.2, and 6 innings, respectively, against the Brewers, Phillies, and Reds. In his last start for the year, he pitched only one inning against the Braves, before leaving the game due to a season-ending injury.
It seems like Ollie spent all of the 2010 season either on the DL, in the bullpen, or out in exile somehow. Somehow, Oliver Perez still made 7 starts for the team, amassing 33.1 innings in April and May. He did, of course, as well as we all would expect Oliver Perez to do: gave up 36 hits, 22 earned runs, struck out 25, walked 24, topped out at 89.3 MPH on his fastball, and amassed an ERA of 5.94.
Pat Misch made six starts in 2010, and once again, surprisingly, he wasn't half bad. Yes, he didn't earn a single win in all of those six starts, and earned the loss in four of them, but as we know all too well (and too many people have yet to figure out), Win/Loss record doesn't matter. Misch pitched 33.2 innings as a starter and gave up a whopping 39 hits, but allowed only 16 earned runs. He gave up only four walks, while striking out 21 (including 10 in one game against the Nationals, on October 1st), giving him a 5.25 K/BB ratio. Four of his six starts were, believe it or not, quality starts.
Maine made nine starts (the last of which, which came on May 20th, against the Nationals, I don't know if we can call a start, since he threw only five pitches before being removed by Jerry) in 2010, and didn't particularly fare too well. He did manage to pitch 39.2 innings, but he also gave up the more hits (a mind-boggling 47), and earned runs (27) than almost anyone else on this list. He walked 25 batters, and struck out 39 (including 9 on the April 28th, against the Dodgers, when his fastball had plenty of movement due to Citi Field being very windy) before being shut down for arthroscopic shoulder surgery.