It's really that simple, but Tom4 would never allow me to write a one-word blog. He's picky like that.
The questions surrounding the Mets this year were all about the pitching staff. But people forget that the Mets had some trouble with their staff last year. How much trouble? They started Jose Lima ... multiple times! Do you remember the Opening Day starting rotation for the Mets last year? I took me awhile to remember them all -- Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Traschel, Brian Bannister, and Victor Zambrano. The only two left standing by the playoffs were Glavine and Traschel. Pedro was nagged with injury after injury throughout the year, finally going on the DL for good. Bannister and Zambrano -- who was horrid -- went down early with various injuries.
They ended up acquiring El Duque, but like the Yankees this year, had so many injuries that they had to keep plugging in players. Guys like Dave Williams, Jeremi Gonzalez, Alay Soler, and rookie Mike Pelfrey. But they also found John Maine, who was really good, and Oliver Perez, who ended up pitching a beautiful game in the NLCS Game 7.
This year, the Mets started with Glavine, El Duque, Jon Maine, Oliver Perez, and Mike Pelfrey. Let's compare with the players that remain on the rotation.
Tom Glavine had his best year with the Mets last year and he looks pretty sharp this year. However, he has a flaw that will take away from his overall performance this season: He sucks against the Braves, with a total record of 3-11 against them. That didn't matter as the Braves sucked it up last year, but this year, it just feels like the Mets and Braves will meet in the NLCS. As of now, we can count Glavine for two losses in that series. Aside from that, I expect him to reach 300 wins and help the Mets win some regular season games. It's just the postseason I'm worried about.
El Duque got injured right before the playoffs last year, and he's already hurt again. He's pitched well this season. However, it seems like his health in the playoffs is just a crap shoot. Because of that, I'd count him the same from last year as a pitcher. His biggest concern is staying healthy.
John Maine gets better with time, much like a fine wine. He was the NL pitcher of the month in April, and even though he's struggled a bit in May, he's always good enough to keep the Mets in the game. He was good last year and he's even better this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he's an Opening Day starter in a few years.
Oliver Perez has improved as well, but much more than John Maine. Perez was pretty bad last year, going 3 - 13, but it's looking like he's becoming one of the Mets more consistent pitchers. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has curbed the wildness that's hurt him in the past and Perez has become a threat every game. Former Met pitcher and current announcer Ron Darling thinks he may be the first to pitch a no-hitter for the Mets in the future and I wouldn't be surprised myself. Like Maine, he's just getting better under the tutelage of Peterson.
Mike Pelfrey has already been sent down to the minors. They did, however, bring up Jorge Sosa, who has stepped it up after a poor season last year. He's been great filling in for El Duque and I expect him to stay in the rotation as the replacement for Pelfrey.
As for Pedro...when I was trying to remember the Opening Day rotation, he's the one I forgot. Pedro is aiming to be back by August and supposedly, he feels better than he has in a long time. If so, that's great. If he can come back and pitch like he did two years ago for the Mets, they should go with a six-man rotation to keep him as healthy as possible for the playoffs. If he doesn't come back, well, it doesn't matter because no one is banking on it. Because of injury, he wasn't even that great last year.
The only player the Mets lost was Steve Traschel. As a Mets fan, I can only say "Good riddance." He was the benefit of a lot of Mets offensive-bashing and when playoff time came, he just sucked it up. The Mets are better with him gone.
Compared to last year, no player has really lost much coming into this year. Glavine's woes against Atlanta may come back to haunt the Mets, but against other teams, he'll be just as solid as last year. El Duque will be OK, but since he wasn't around for the playoffs last year, I would count any more than that an improvement. Maine and Perez, probably the biggest question marks about this rotation, have improved drastically and could be cornerstones for the Mets pitching staff for years to come. For awhile last year, the Mets really only had four consistent starters and this year, they've already unearthed Jorge Sosa to fill a fifth spot admirably.
When the Mets are hitting hard, they don't need great pitchers (see: Steve Traschel), but this year they have a rotation that will help them win ballgames without offensive explosions. The Mets pitching staff is better this year and that could very well help them to go to the World Series.