The early going has not provided much good news for the Mets’ starting pitching.  Anyone have Pedro Martinez’ number handy?

Just a few weeks into Spring Training and the need for starting pitching depth has been hammered home.  Johan Santana has experienced elbow problems, John Maine has ditched his curveball in an attempt to throw more strikes, Mike Pelfrey has a strained muscle in his left lower leg, Oliver Perez is getting bombed in the WBC and none of the fifth starter candidates have done anything to distinguish themselves.

By themselves, none of these are anything to worry about.  Taken as a group, it is a depressing collection of information.  Let’s look at these one by one and see how worried we should be.

Santana – Because this problem belonged to Santana it got blown completely out of proportion.  He already has recovered from the elbow strain, pitched a full bullpen session and is scheduled to make his Spring debut Thursday night.  It should surprise no one if he is on the mound Opening Day versus the Reds.

Maine – Regarded as his own worst critic, Maine was down on himself after a performance versus the Italian team in the WBC.  While I think it is perfectly reasonable to be upset with yourself for having a lousy outing against Italy’s finest, it is hardly anything to be worried about long term.  The key is that Maine is on the mound and throwing with no pain.

Pelfrey – Doctors have ordered Pelfrey to wear a boot to help ease the strain on his muscle in his left leg.  He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and until then his status is unclear.  Unlike the other two pitchers above, this is a legitimate worry right now.

Perez – He gave up seven hits and four runs in two innings versus Australia.  Perez allowed two homers, including one to Chris Snelling.  He also struck out five batters.  While hardly an encouraging outing, at least he is out on the mound getting his work in.

As for the fifth starter candidates, there are worries about Freddy Garcia‘s velocity, Tim Redding has had mild shoulder problems and then got lit up versus the University of Michigan and Livan Hernandez is the success story with a 4.70 ERA in 7.2 IP.

*****

In 2008, the Mets tied for the National League lead with 145 games started by the pitchers expected to be in their five-man rotation.  Odds of that happening again are not great.

At least with Redding, Garcia and Hernandez, as well as Jon Niese and Robert Parnell, the Mets should be using a respectable MLB pitcher nearly every game, unlike the days of Jose Lima and Alay Soler.

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