Well, it's official. The Mets will not be going 162-0 this season.
All kidding aside, the Mets first loss of the season unveiled what will more than likely be one of the most confounding and frustrating storyline of the new season.
That would be the curious case of Oliver Perez.
Certainly, after two-plus seasons of watching Oliver Perez do his thing for the Mets, we know by now that we just won't ever know what the hell to expect out of him. He's good, he's bad, he's up, he's down, who the hell knows. But basically, You can sum Oliver Perez up in one sentence: Oliver Perez is a Loser.
Harsh, perhaps. But it's basically true. Oliver Perez is really the worst kind of loser. He's a loser with talent. He's got the talent to tantalize, but ultimately disappoint. He comes up big in games when it's needed most, but, almost always, he comes up frustratingly small in games he should be eating his opponents alive. It's to the point where you really have to question whether or not re-signing Perez last winter was really the smartest idea. True, there weren't any other options, and true, the Mets needed to bring someone in who could give some sort of veteran stability in the middle of the rotation. But we basically know what we're getting with Perez, and that is to say that we know that we can't ever be too sure which Oliver Perez is going to show up. He could throw 7 shutout innings. He could give up 6 runs in 3 innings with 6 walks. Neither one would be a surprise. Sometimes, he's inconsistent within his own games. Thursday's game was such a perfect example of this. Through two innings, you couldn't not be encouraged. He was mixing pitches, spotting everything perfectly and keeping the Reds off balance. Then, he gets a 3-run lead, and he goes and gives it back before the paint even dried. The Mets tie the game, and he goes and buries them the following inning. And he was getting killed by lefty Joey Votto, who, if you read his splits, is someone he should be getting out.
The larger problem exists when you consider the fact that the Mets are counting on Perez to be a major part of their rotation. It's beyond the point where you could truly call him a Key Player. I didn't name him as one of the 5 for this season because there's nothing key about him. You know that he's going to be a basket case, and this isn't going to change. The question, then, becomes why consider him to be a big part of the starting rotation when you know that it's more or less a lock that he's going to shit the bed a good 40% of the time?
I'm sure, when he goes out against Philly or Atlanta and gives up 2 runs on 5 hits in 8 innings, I'll recant all of this and say that Perez is wonderful and we're lucky to have him, but in reality, it just underscores my point. Oliver Perez is a talented pitcher, a solid competitor, and he just seems like an eminently likable guy. More than anything else, I think most people wanted the Mets to re-sign him because they like him. He gets along great with his teammates, all that good stuff. But I don't see how a team that has Championship aspirations can survive knowing that every so often their #3 starter is going to get up on the wrong side of the bed and not be able to sweat his way through 5 innings.
I'd like to say I don't know, and it remains to be seen, and maybe he can be coached up, but I think by now we all know the answer. The answer is we're just never going to know which version of this guy is going to show up on any given day. And it's frustrating the hell out of me.