Who Does Number Two Work For?By: Brendan Bilko
Early this morning Adam Rubin tweeted that the Mets have a possible rotation shuffle in the works, and that Mike Pelfrey will not be starting the second game of the season against the Marlins. Now there was no official rotation order to shuffle that we know of, but the supposed rotation order (Santana, Pelfrey, Perez, Maine, Niese) can no longer be assumed as such.
Taking a look at how the remainder of the Spring Training starts should shake up after Figueroa going today, Maine should start Thursday, followed by Pelfrey and Niese to wrap up Grapefruit League play. The wild card here, and it should be of no surprise, is Oliver Perez. He only pitched 2 2/3 innings yesterday and will probably need another start against Minor Leaguers to stretch his arm out. If he does so on April 3rd, here is what the potential starting rotation would look like:
Now this order is purely speculative and based on all of the rotation guys getting one extra day of rest before they start the regular season. Something still doesn’t seem right about it though. Why would they delay Pelfrey one game? He’s still going to have to face the Marlins, a club he has a terrible history against (the Fish have a slash line of .302 / .386 / .467 when facing Pelfrey, and his K/BB ratio is a paltry 1.40). Then it hit me:
Call me crazy, but hear me out first. Jerry knows he needs to get off to a hot start. If he’s playing it by past history (which appears to be the only plausible situation here), he’s going to want Pelfrey to miss Florida altogether. So why Figueroa second? He’s pitched his best against the Fish. When facing Figgy, Florida has a slash line of .231 / .286 / .372. Nelson’s K/BB ratio of 3.75 is also his personal best against any Major League team he’s faced. The numbers back up John Maine as well. Florida’s slash line on him is .181 / .269 / .332 and his K/BB ratio is at 3.05. By starting the season off with these three it puts the team in the best position to get off to a hot start.
But what about Perez? Where does he fit into this? Due to the travel day between the last game of the home stand and the series in Colorado, I don’t think they’ll start with a six-man rotation as it will just be way too much time between starts. My feeling, and this is purely conjecture, is that they’ll DL Oliver to start the season. He has looked awful this spring in game situations. By coming up with some injury story, any injury story, they can keep Ollie in extended Spring Training and let him try to work out his problems. With so many off days in April, the team will have the opportunity to let him get back into the rotation on the 30th against the Phillies, when the 5th starter is supposed to get his turn. Figueroa can then be dropped to long relief duty and everyone else can slide up a slot in the rotation.
Again, this is all pure speculation on my part. Hell the entire thought process was spawned by a tweet from a guy writing for a site that hasn’t even launched yet. Is it what I would like to see? Not necessarily, but I’d be fine with it. To be honest, I’d be happy with anything at this point. April 5th cannot get here soon enough.