Bumped to the top. I wrote this at two in the morning so you have to read it even if the subject matter and comprehensibility betray my having written it at two in the morning.
These probably should have been done a few days ago and by now everyone else has already posted their mid-term report cards/All-Star Game blog filler, but I was too busy cutting the sleeves off of my Carlos Voltron shirt to worry about these things. Now that Voltron shirt is sleeveless and my guns can breathe, here are your obligatory first half grades for the Mets pitching staff.
Manny Acosta: C-. The best thing you can say about Acosta is that he isn't Ryota Igarashi. He throws hard and had 14 strikeouts in 12 innings, but also had eight walks (all unintentional) to go along with them. Woof.
Elmer Dessens: B-. An "A" for results but a "D-" for process. The 1.47 ERA looks nice and is probably sufficient ammo for Jerrybrain to keep sending Dessens out there, but the 3.39 FIP betrays his lousy peripheral stats: eight strikeouts and five walks -- plus two HBP -- in 18 innings. His 5.10 xFIP is a reflection of the zero home runs allowed. All of this means that, given more playing time, the results are likely to catch up (or down?) to the process and Dessens will be right back where he belongs: far away from a big league roster.
R.A. Dickey: A. Easily the most pleasant surprise of the first half, and even though the euphemistic headlines are getting old, I think Dickey's outlook has been solidified by an arousing performance thus far. His strikeout, walk, and home run rates are the best of his career, and while you wouldn't typically expect a pitcher to have a career season at age 35, knuckleballers aren't exactly your garden-variety hurlers. He's a lot of fun to watch -- both for the whimsy of his pitches and the intensity of his facial expressions -- and we can only hope his success continues.
Pedro Feliciano: B. Feliciano is having a decent season that could be excellent if he either a) didn't face as many righties, or b) didn't walk so many of them. He has 13 walks (three intentional) in 18.2 innings against righties, which works out to a ridiculous 6.27 BB/9; it's still 4.82 if we toss out the intentional passes (which we should, really, if the exercise is to quantify Feliciano's control, or lack thereof). On the plus side, he's striking out plenty and his ground ball rate is terrific.
Sean Green: LOL.
Ryota Igarashi: F. Iggy throws mid-nineties heat with interesting movement but has been terrible at basically everything. Bad strikeout rate. Bad walk rate. Bad home run rate. Too many fly balls. Worse than Toyota.
John Maine: D+. Might have already thrown his last pitch as a Met. He can still strike batters out, but as often as not he has little control over the location of his pitches or the mechanics of his arm. There are probably zero remaining reasons to expect that he'll ever make a meaningful contribution to this team again.
Jenrry Mejia: C-. Mejia should never have made the big club out of Spring Training, and despite a deceptively low 3.25 ERA he really didn't pitch very well. He has a terrifying arm but quite a bit to learn about how to use it effectively. Pitching instead of throwing, and so on. He's currently on the shelf with a posterior cuff strain in his throwing shoulder but is expected to be back in action soon.
Jon Niese: B+. There's a lot to like about Niese. His control has been exceptional, particularly for someone so young. His strikeout and swinging-strike rates are both above average for a starting pitcher. And to boot, he puts the ball on the ground more often than not. He's 23 and cost controlled, and I'm just happy he wasn't traded for Cliff Lee.
Fernando Nieve: D+. He'd have to be worth another win from here on out just to get back to replacement level. Yes, he's really been that bad. It's the same old story about a pitcher who isn't good at baseball things, pitching in particular.
Bobby Parnell: B+. This could very well be an "INC", but that'd be a cop-out so screw that. Also, Parnell has been legitimately awesome, albeit in just 11 innings. He has 14 strikeouts to just three walks (two unintentional), so his 1.64 ERA has been thus far supported by outstanding peripherals.
Mike Pelfrey: B. Big Pelf had a 2.23 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 28 walks in his first 12 starts (and one relief appearance). In his last half-dozen starts the ERA is 6.96 with 14 walks and just 11 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. His ground ball rate has dropped by 20% but really he's just giving up a mind-boggling number of hits. His hit rate when things were going well was 7.36 per nine innings. During his poor stretch? 15.31. I'm not sure what that's all about, exactly, but I assume it's Alex Cora's fault.
Oliver Perez: F. Over seven starts and four relief appearances spanning 38.2 innings, Perez has 30 strikeouts, 33 walks (one intentional), two hit batsmen, and three wild pitches. He also has seven home runs allowed. Somewhat interestingly, a career-high 39.2% ground ball rate, of which I'm not really sure what to make. His career mark is 33%. His contract is pretty clearly worse than either Bobby Bonilla deal, (the former of which wasn't actually a bad deal) but paying him to not pitch seems far preferable to actually letting him take the mound again.
Francisco Rodriguez: A-. I still hate the contract, but the dude has been really good this season. Yea, he seems to let a few more guys on base than my cardiologist would prefer, but his walk rate is actually way down and his strikeout rate way up. He has given up a lot of hits, more than you might expect, which could very well even out as the season wears on.
Johan Santana: B. He has the lowest strikeout rate of his career -- 5.88 (!) -- and the highest walk rate since 2002 -- 2.91. The bad news gets worse when we factor in that he has allowed just eight home runs so far, which may not sound like bad news but really is when we consider that his home run rate of 0.57 is well below his career mark of 0.96 while his fly ball rate remains basically unchanged from prior years. Either he has developed a magical ability to give up lots of fly balls but not so many home runs, or we might reasonably expect the home run rate to come back up in the latter half of the season. His last three starts have been better, I guess.
Hisanori Takahashi: B-. Excelled in long relief before a promotion to the rotation, where he excelled for two starts. Then had seven less excellent starts over which he allowed 27 runs in 37 innings and an .892 OPS against. Now back in the bullpen, has one three-inning appearance with no runs allowed. Terrific 8.31 K/9 and a not-awful 3.58 BB/9.
Raul Valdes: C. He's still kind of interesting to me. Made his big league debut at age 32 this year, he's a bit of a junkballer but has gotten plenty of swinging strikes. Lefty, too. 5.04 ERA is poor, but 3.18 FIP is nice and 4.03 xFIP is decent.