As we all know the general consensus on the Mets is that our starting pitching will either make or break us because supposedly “pitching wins in the playoffs” and because our staff of starting pitchers has been the least stable part of our team. And now we have lost Pedro.
To my mind, our postseason will not come down to the performance of our pitchers but our bats. I’m very confident in Orlando Hernandez as our #1 pitcher. His October numbers historically have been just outstanding. Even in seasons where his regular season numbers lagged, he has managed to pull out ERAs a solid point lower in the postseason when he’s had enough innings to have a considerable ERA. Glavine is hot, Maine has been great for us and the lack of trust in him is baffling, and Trachsel is the same coin flip on any given night that he has always been. We can pencil Trachsel to either get shelled or pitch a 2 hit shut out in game 3. Actually put it in ink.
Our starters are not exactly Schilling & Johnson circa 2001, but they are more than adequate to keep us in games long enough for our superb bullpen to take over however early or late they are needed.
The REAL question to me is our offense and not because it’s weak or because it can’t hit lefties or because it wasn’t scoring runs last week but because it’s filled with streaky hitters. This season Delgado, Beltran, and Wright, played hot potato as to who was to carry the team offensively. Delgado and Wright took turns carrying us night after night in April, in May, it was the David Wright show, in June Reyes suddenly realized an amazing amount of the latent potential we always expected seemingly overnight, and in July Beltran put up an astonishing, MVP caliber month. In late August it was Delgado again.
Each of these players have carried the team at some point, and when several have been hot together, the team has gone on torrid streaks of near unbeatability.
The problem is that none of them has put in a consistent wire to wire sort of steady offensive season. Each is capable of plunging into a sudden slump for five games. Our postseason hopes depend on at least two of our top five carrying us through this next five games against LA. If our bats are hot, we can beat anyone, and if they’re not we can’t beat any one. We will not win the pitchers’ duels but we will take the slugfests.
The “pitching always wins” people forget the 2002 Angels whose starting pitchers were all called up from a Mexican League where they served as pinatas apparently. That team won from behind seemingly every night because of a bullpen that put a tourniquet to massive bleeding and an offense that pounded back until Yankees, Twins, and Giants were bloody pulps. Our starters are still better than theirs, but this sort of an offensive approach is going to be huge if we win. Mark my words, if this postseason is filled with low scoring games, the Mets will not go far. If it is filled with slugfests, the Mets will win them. If it’s blowouts, those go either way.
Offense is also most important to this postseason because if all goes well and we make it to the Series, we WILL have to face the Yankees because they are unstoppable with THEIR offense.
At that point, forget about pitching, as the Yankees have as relativley little of it to be confident in as we do, and beware of the massive bats in the Bronx. Their lineup is as staggering as any human being could ever dream. Ours will have to be as hot as possible to compete.
Mark my words, the bats will decide this October.