Monday, June 4, 2012

Pitcher Perfect

Who needs a Bullpen?

With the starting pitching that was flying around this past weekend, certainly not the Mets.

After the dust settled (although it really hasn't settled yet) from Johan Santana's No Hitter on Friday night, the Mets followed up with a pair of more conventional great pitching performances, the typical solid effort from R.A. Dickey on Saturday, and from Jonathon Niese on Sunday Night, as the Mets proved themselves not only a worthy foil for the Cardinals, but worthy of inclusion on ESPN's The Biggest Game In The Galaxy.

Saturday, Dickey took to the mound and did basically what he's done all season: Get people out and get them out with regularity. That's all he seems to do. Whatever he's been doing, he's just had that knuckleball mojo working just about every start, and now it's time to start noticing the success. At 8-1, with an ERA under 3, he's become more than worthy of All Star consideration; I think he's worthy of inclusion. But although his performances have been great, he hadn't been able to finish one off to this point in the season. That changed on Saturday, when he wiped out a Cardinals team that may have still been reeling from being No-Hit the night before. With an early lead, Dickey just cruised the rest of the way, scattering, scattering 7 hits—7 more hits than the Cardinals had the night before—in a masterful complete game shutout effort that rendered the bullpen irrelevant for the second day in a row.

Sunday brought Jonathon Niese to the mound in a game moved to ESPN because, hey, the Mets are performing well and ESPN loves to kiss the Cardinals' asses even if LaRussa and Pujols are gone. So the Mets earned their first inclusion on the often-reviled Biggest Game In The Galaxy, and had he not been felled by a rapid heartbeat after 6 innings of a game that the Mets had a comfortable lead, Niese might have finished things off himself. But, no, out he came, and in came a bullpen that certainly must have been well-rested. The only issue left to chance for the Mets then became could they shut out that vaunted Cardinals offense 3 games in a row. The answer was no, only because they managed to scrape a run across against a kid making his big league debut. But that seemed to be all the Cardinals have been able to muster at this point.

Today, the finale of  the series, with Jeremy Hefner going to the mound for the Mets to follow up his memorable effort last week against the Phillies. If Hefner's on the mound, the weather must be bad out, looks like rain today. Well, we'll see how this turns out for him. If it's anything like the rest of the Mets starting pitching the past few days, the weather may not matter much.

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