Last year, the Mets lost nine of their last 15 games to blow the division. This year, the Mets have lost nine of their first 15 games.
It's way too early to talk about blowing the division, especially when the Mets are only half a game behind Philly and one game behind Atlanta. (Sorry, Marlin fans, I never worry about Florida until the end of the season when they rise up and knock the Mets out of the playoffs.)
Losing nine of 15 in the middle of the year is no big deal. It's bad in September, though not as bad as the 12 of 17 to close out 2007. Losing nine of 15 to start the year probably is not that big a deal, either, but until the Mets turn it around, there is always a fear that this is the real team.
Surely the rotation is not so bad that Livan Hernandez can see his ERA rise to 7.31 and still have the second-best ERA among starters. (It would have been third-best had the Mets kept Nelson Figueroa. Now the Mets are talking about a front-office meeting to discuss the pitching staff. Maybe they should have had that meeting before letting Figueroa go.)
One or more of Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine may end up with disappointing seasons, but not with ERAs over 7, barring injury. They have track records much better than that.
Hernandez, however, did have an ERA of 6.05 last season, following an ERA of 4.93 in 2007 and 4.83 in 2006. So expectations for him should be lower.
The Mets finally face a lefty Friday, so Manuel is talking about starting both Gary Sheffield and Fernando Tatis in the outfield. Apparently, he is not sure who would play where, since neither is a good outfielder.
Opposing pitcher Scott Olsen has made three starts and has an ERA of 9.00. He has a lifetime 1-5 record against the Mets with a 4.74 ERA.
Sheffield went o for 5 today and is now hitting .111 (2 for 18, with four walks). So shaking things up by putting him in the lineup is a questionable move. Tatis at least did well last year so he has a recent track record of success.
If Manuel starts both Sheffield and Tatis, then he is starting to panic. With Johan Santana on the mound, the Mets need defense, not more hitting. Especially when the hitters are not likely to be as productive as the ones you are benching.
I do not buy the notion that Santana's games are that much more important because the rest of the rotation is floundering. Santana can win every one of his games and the Mets will have fewer wins than the '62 Mets if other starters don't step up.
But the Mets could really use a win Friday night.