Friday, June 16, 2006

Is this for real?

Yeah, they won again. It was closer this time, so Phillies fans can take some comfort in that.

There seems to be a pattern developing here: Mets score a bunch of runs, our starter turns in a respectable performance, and the bullpen gives up extremely little. Whether or not that's going to be the formula for the rest of the year, I think we can all agree that it's a good one. I'm just going to take a few sentences on the sustainability of each;

As for scoring bunches of runs, I think the Mets can do this on a pretty regular basis.

The team's OBP (.336) is not quite where I'd like it to be. In terms of league rank, we're just above the median, but it's a crowded field and only the Reds, Cardinals and Dodgers (in ascending order) really set themselves apart in the category. And how long can St. Louis stay there without the services of Pujols?

The SLG is in the sweet spot. The Beltran/Wright/Delgado-fueled .453 mark is just behind the Reds for league honors, and (besides employing Adam Dunn) they play in a bandbox on the Ohio River. They don't know what headwinds are.

Speaking of the Shea effect, it may deserve some of the credit for the home team's pitching performance, but certainly not all.

Pedro has been incredible, and I have a lot of confidence that it will continue. Glavine has also been incredible, but I don't expect it to continue. Trachsel is a known quantity. Hernandez and Soler are not (though I have my hunches).

I think the rotation is in the greatest need of a midseason upgrade... but a) that's what the pride of Wichita St. is for, and b) as long as the bullpen keeps doing this kind of work, the starters won't have to be any good.

To pick a totally arbitrary measure of pitching depth, the Mets have no fewer than ten (10) pitchers with an ERA of 3.33 or lower. All but one of them are currently active.

If I had been asked which two relief pitchers led the Mets in VORP, I would not have answered Darren Oliver or Pedro Feliciano, but there they are. The latter has been especially vicious. I had lost track of them in the Wagner, Sanchez, Bell and Bradford mix (Heilman's in the doghouse). Probably because they had all been so impressive, too.

Of course, there were also innings pitched by Bartolome Fortunato and Jose Lima, so the team ERA is 3.93 (maybe a few basis points higher after tonight's game). That's still good for best in the National League.

As for the original question: of course this start is for real. Just look at the standings, as I do more often these days. The record in one-run games (aka the '05 White Sox Luck Meter) has been unusually good, but the underlying performance is there, too. When the #1 pitching team in the league is also the #2 slugging team, that team should be expected to win.

Will it last? I hope so. The pitching has overachieved somewhat, but the offense hasn't.

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