The worm is turning. New York’s most beloved franchise is in first place, one-half game ahead of the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Don’t believe what the “experts” told you before the season started. The Mets are as good as the Phillies, and better than any other team in the National League.
With a pitching staff led by Johan Santana, who is certainly the equal of the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, the Mets can match any starting rotation. Santana appears to be fully recovered from surgery, has won three games, and has a 2.08 ERA.
Mike Pelfrey has gained tremendous confidence, is working on a scoreless streak that has reached 24 innings, and has developed the control necessary to be a big winner. He is 4-0, with a minuscule 0.69 ERA.
Oliver Perez has had his moments, pitching some magnificent games but melting down due to a lack of control in others
Perez had what seemed to be a break-out season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, striking out 239 hitters in only 196 innings, with a 2.98 ERA. He showed what he can do in the fateful seventh game of the 2006 playoffs, when he limited the St. Louis Cardinals to one run in six innings.
John Maine has health problems. He was a 15-game winner in 2007, allowing only 168 hits in 191 innings. If Maine can return to form, the Mets will have an outstanding right-hander as their second or third starter.
Young left-hander Jon Niese has pitched well this season. At the age of 22, Niese has already started 105 games in the minors, pitching to an ERA of 3.74, with a WHIP of 1.35.
The bullpen is solid once again. Fernando Nieve, Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi, and young Jennry Mejia bridge the late innings to the great Francisco Rodriguez, who is one of the top closers in the history of the game.
The offense is adequate, but Jose Reyes, who was out almost the entire 2009 season, has returned with a vengeance, is batting third, and presents an offensive threat rarely seen.
Jose put together three consecutive seasons in which he had double figures in home run, triples, and doubles, but serious health matters slowed him down. He is back.
David Wright should return to form, Jeff Francoeur was a steal from the Atlanta Braves, and newly-signed Jason Bay is staring to hit the long ball.
Youngster Ike Davis, the son of relief pitcher Ron Davis, who pitched for New York’s other team, has provided the spark that has allowed the offense to score just enough runs to win.
Before the season started, it was generally acknowledged that the Phillies had the National League East sewn up. Well, folks, as we all know, they have to play the games.
After Roy Halladay, the Phillies lack reliable pitching.
Cole Hamels has disappointed, Last season, he won only 10 games while losing 11. This season, he has a 5.11 ERA.
Kyle Kenrick is a disaster area, and while J.A. Happ has had his moments, he is injured and lacks experience. Jamie Moyer is the fifth starter. Enough said.
The Phillies have no bullpen. Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, David Herndon, and Jose Contreras remind one more of arsonists than firemen.
Brad Lidge is working his way back from rehabilitation in the minors, but one never knows what one is going to get when Brad takes the mound.
The Atlanta Braves have disappointed, the team that used to play in Montreal has improved, but they are not a threat, and the Florida Marlins are inconsistent.
Guess who is going to win the National League East.
The Baseball Cube