The Mets just had a three game series with the Braves, in which they lost 2 of 3 which is about as shocking news as me telling you the sun rose in the east today. The problem here was they had their two best big game pitchers on the mound, and those were the two games they lost. These guys pitched the way they were supposed to, it was the bullpen that lost it for them. Johan Santana went to the mound as the Mets big game pitcher as he had proved the week before against Philadelphia, though he’s lost to the Braves earlier this year he shut them out through 7 innings only to see the bullpen blow it. For the next game the Mets through out John Niese making his second start, he promptly pitched 8 shutout innings for the win. Sunday’s game was absolutely huge, and the Mets put a man who is arguably and in my opinion their BEST big game pitcher, Oliver Perez. I know that one might have raised a few eyebrows, but look back at it, since game 7 of the 2006 NLCS he’s had the confidence, especially in big games. He was labeled the worst game 7 starter in the history of baseball. He took that label to the mound and pitched an unbelievable 6 innings giving up just 1 run (obviously he was saved by the most unbelievable double play made by Endy Chavez). But when you look back at his career with the Mets, the Mets who for as long as I can remember can never ever beat the Braves, therefore, especially during a pennant race, every game with the Braves is a so called “big game”. Before the playoffs Perez had made somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 starts for the team, he was on the roster because he was thrown into a trade and was just there as an extra pitcher during the September call up season. Well he got a start against the Braves and pitched a complete game shutout. Everyone always talks about Ollie Perez being Ollie Perez, and having his control issues, but these games usually come against the likes of the Nationals and Giants. Look back at his stats and whenever he has stepped onto the mound against the Mets two longtime rivals the Braves and the Yankees (the Phillies are more recent) Perez dominates his starts and usually comes out a winner.
So it’s not shocking to me that Perez pitched very well again yesterday, the problem as always is the Mets bullpen. The Mets got three unbelievable starts from their pitchers over the weekend and they lost two games. This bullpen was awful at the end of August and it looked like the competition of September call ups would save them. The problem now is Jerry Maunuel is going back to the same guys again and again causing them to get tired. But the biggest problem now is Jerry’s starting to over manage, he won’t let his bullpen pitch to hitters opposite them, lefties to lefties, righties to righties. This causes guys to come in and pitch to one batter, give up a hit and then leave the game, which leaves fewer guys in the pen. The problem is Pedro Feliciano can’t get anyone out these days. The Mets other lefty Scott Schoeneweis is in an “up” year, all year he’s been getting both lefties and righties out, and he’s had the stamina to go multiple innings. So why now is Jerry only letting him pitch to one lefty? If this bullpen manages to hold up, and that’s a big IF, how will they hold up in the playoffs? Fans could be excited all they want, the starters are there, Santana has been great in big games, Pelfrey with the exception of his last start has been dominant, and Oliver Perez is the teams best big game pitcher, but even if they go 8 innings that 9th inning is still the problem. If Jerry keeps over managing his bullpen, a pen that clearly CAN’T pitch in big games (though they could pitch in the games Oliver Perez can’t pitch in) making the playoffs won’t be the biggest thing as the team won’t be able to hold onto a single lead they have and will make an early exit.