he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: August 2007h

Sunday, August 19, 2007

El Duque Becoming Mets Ace

The young Mets pitchers have struggled through most of the second half of the season. John Maine's era has sky rocketed from 2.71 to 3.59 thanks to a 6.31 era after the all-streak break. A seven game stretch which includes Maine allowing 8 home runs in 35.2 innings pitched (he allowed 10 home runs in the previous 109.2 innings pitched). Maine's struggles are to be expected, considering that 2007 is his first full season in the major leagues, and most young pitchers struggle when they reach this stage of their career.

Not only Maine has struggled, however. Oliver Perez's era has rose .38 points in the second half, and would be much higher had the five un-earned runs he allowed on July 26th counted as earned runs. Perez is struggling from similar problems that Maine has struggled through. Perez has allowed seven home runs in 41 innings pitched after the all-star break, while he allowed only eleven home runs in his previous 94.2 innings. Perez has not recorded a quality start since July 20th (I am not counting Perez's July 26th start as a quality start because he allowed 5 un-earned runs. Despite the fact that his line was 6 innings 0 earned runs.) and has been allowing hits at an alarming rate.

As mentioned earlier it was almost expected that Perez and Maine, the two youngest pitchers in the rotation, would struggle at some point in the season, however not many expected the staff's oldest pitcher (arguably) to be the team's ace. Orlando Hernandez's 3.09 era leads all Mets starters and his 1.10 WHIP is also the lowest amongst Mets starters. Thus far this season in El Duque's 21 starts he is 8-4 (the best win percentage among starters at 67%). Perhaps most importantly El Duque has been surprisingly consistent this season. El Duque throws a quality start roughly 75% of the time this season, also the best among Mets starters (Glavine is second at 70%). Whats more is Hernandez has a 2.42 era at home with an eye-popping .98 WHIP, and he has an era of 2.16 in his four starts against the division rival Phillies and Braves. No Mets starter has dominated both the Phillies and the Braves quite like El Duque has.

With his seven inning three hit masterpiece today against the Nationals El Duque is slowly becoming the Mets best pitcher. Before the season started and at times towards the end of last year Mets fans were thinking of having a rotation of Pedro-Glavine-Maine-Perez in the playoffs, with El Duque becoming a key cog in the Mets bullpen. Perhaps it's time to reconsider and put Maine or Perez in the pen.

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