Johan Santana has been throwing down in Port St. Lucie, according to the Mets Twitter feed. He has apparently been making strides and there’s a chance he could be the Opening Day starter. However, we all know what can happen in spring training. Last year, Adam Wainwright got hurt in the first days of camp. And of course most Met fans will remember the scare a few years ago in which Santana almost missed Opening Day. The point is that anything can happen between now and April 5.
So what will the rotation look like if Johan isn’t ready to start the season? Here’s what I think:
Obviously, the rotation looks so much weaker without a true number one starter, or even a true number two. Taking away Johan, who could still return to ace form, is devastating to the rotation even if others step up. R.A. Dickey is arguably an alright number two starter at best. He will likely win 12-14 games this year if he stays healthy and if the offense gives him at least a little run support. Pelfrey is so inconsistent that I’m not even going to bother with him. Niese has slowed in his development a bit, really struggling from July on, pitching to a 5.61 ERA and allowing hitters to hit .313 against him before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Gee pitched well the first half of the season. He was the last undefeated starter in baseball at one point, but he also struggled from July on, pitching to a 5.42 ERA in 15 starts. Schwinden made his MLB debut last year. He made four starts in September. In one of them (his debut), he was roughed up a bit, but Schwinden finished the year with three strong starts. He was also 8-8 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP in 26 Triple-A starts last year.
This rotation is certainly a mysterious one, with many unknowns. You have the potential that comes with the three young starters in this projected rotation, but with that youth comes uncertainty and inexperience in big-game situations (not that they are going to be playing many big games).
So let;s just hope that Johan Santana is ready. That way… we won’t be embarrassed.