Posted by Frank Gray at 9:25 AM
By: Frank Gray
The New York Mets have had their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training a few days ago. As the roster gets molded into Opening Day shape, Terry Collins has several decisions to make. Among them is the starting rotation.
With reports of Johan Santana's health being better than originally expected, the starting five look pretty much set. They would include Santana, R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
With Niese becoming a valid starter and Dickey posting one quality start after another, this would hardly be referred to as Johan and the four rain-outs this year. Can anyone argue that Gee hasn't earned a chance to be the number five pitcher out of the gate this season?
A 13-6 record with a 4.43 ERA at a young age of 25 last season shows what a tremendous upside he has. The question with him will be now that the league has adjusted to him, what will he tweak in his game to counter that?
Mike Pelfrey was handed the "ace" title last season in the absence of Santana and sputtered in the spotlight. With Santana returning, could he find the 2010 season stats (15-9, 3.66 ERA) again or will he continue to develop into the headcase bust that we saw last year?
There is one x-factor in all of this, however. His name is Pedro Beato. Pitching coach Dan Warthen is high on him as a potential starter. Should Santana not be ready at the beginning of the season, need a rest between starts or not be the Santana we all know or if the team needs a starter for a double header, Beato could emerge as the guy right now.
They do have Chris Schwinden for that option as well and later in the season the temptation will be swelling over to call up Jeurys Familia or Matt Harvey to take on that role. Beato makes the most sense, though.
As Warthen points out, he has four solid pitches and at 6' 4" he has the size to be a powerful presence on the mound. He has proven he can pitch at the MLB level. His stats last season, when the team had to reserve a roster spot for him due to the Rule 5 draft rules, were very respectable.
He posted a 4.30 ERA in 67 innings pitched to go with 39 strikeouts in his 60 appearances. The question would be his endurance. If he were to start on a consistent basis, would he run out of gas halfway through the game or can he last into the latter innings?
He may very well begin the season in AAA to groom him as a spot starter/long reliever. The team can afford to do this now that his contract is under their control.
With that said, the rotation can be in good shape if healthy. That, however, will be the issue.