A day after Oliver Perez's umpteenth meltdown led to his long-awaited ouster from the starting rotation, John Maine lasted just five innings, throwing 112 pitches, walking five, coughing up seven hits and allowing six runs overall in an eventual 7-5 loss to the Marlins. The Mets had lost four of five against divisional opponents and what they really needed was a heroic effort today from Maine. To say the very least, they didn't get one.
The two big pieces of pre-game news were Perez's aforementioned ejection from the rotation and the return of Jose Reyes to the leadoff spot. While I rarely fret over the minutiae of a manager's lineup shuffling, it'd be tough not to characterize the Reyes-to-third plan as an unequivocal disaster in hindsight. Reyes managed a woeful .212/.264/.282 in 21 games following the move, and while the Mets actually went 12-9 as a team it'd be a stretch to imply there was a real positive correlation between the lineup change and the overall team results. Interestingly enough, in one game back at the top of the order Reyes had a 2-for-5 night while the Mets lost the ballgame.
Jeff Francoeur went 0-for-4 again (i.e. downed four more Baconators), so Reyes's return to leadoff had no immediate positive consequences for the Frenchman. In fact, he hit even worse than Reyes -- .169/.222/.262 -- since April 23 (the day the Reyes "experiment" began). I suspect Francoeur will have the day off on Sunday, and maybe some rest will clear his head a bit. While I'm pretty certain he's a bad hitter, he's not this bad. It'd be nice if Chris Carter got a start but I think we all know it'll be Gary Matthews Jr. getting the call to transform at-bats into outs like only GMJ can.
David Wright had a nice night at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and his eighth home run of the year, an absolute bomb to dead center in the top of the second. You'll recall that Wright had but ten home runs all last year, so he's well on his way to relegating 2009 to "outlier" status when we tell the story of his baseball career.
But to come back around to it, the only story that really mattered tonight was Maine's disappointing start and the implications it has for the Mets' starting rotation. I don't think he's yet at risk of following Perez out of the rotation altogether, as Maine's near future as a starter is buoyed by his previous three starts, all of which were solid-to-good. The Mets already have one spot to fill, which I imagine will go to Hisanori Takahashi, who will move to the rotation while Perez likely replaces Tak as the long man. We do need to look ahead to the roster juggling that will be necessary if/when Maine self-destructs, perhaps a few starts from now, perhaps later in the season. If that happens, does Maine go to the bullpen as a reliever? Does he accept a demotion to the minor leagues to work on his game?
It may seem premature to be carrying on about this with fewer than a quarter of the season's games in our rearview, but these are questions the Mets need to start asking right now because they probably can't afford to give Maine a lot of rope with which to hang himself. Saturday's loss pushes them five games behind the Phillies and into fourth place in the NL East (three games back in the Wild Card). There are a lot of games still to be played, but that doesn't mean you sit around waiting for the smoke to clear, because it could just as likely give way to a full-blown car fire (if it hasn't already).
Jon Niese takes on Ricky Nolasco at 1:10pm as the Mets try to avoid the four-game sweep.
With Reyes back in his accustomed spot,
Maine has start that's not-so-hot
Big winners: Jason Bay, +11.8% WPA, David Wright, +6.4% WPA
Big losers: John Maine, -34.0% WPA, Jeff Francoeur, -12.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Bay RBI single in third, +10.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Maybin two-run single in first, -13.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -34.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -15.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Cameron Maybin
Nice job by sj10689; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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