NL East Preview - Rotations

With the first tentative whiffs of the 2007 season leaking through this dismal period between the Super Bowl and Spring Training, it's time for the Army to dust off the keyboard and type out the first few words for the season, a season of fear and trepid expectation following the Beltran At The Bat ending to 2006.

In the next few weeks I will be previewing the NL East in pieces, usually by position and team as the struggle begins to suss out what to expect in the months of agony and euphoria to come.

Fittingly, to begin with the starters...and to wake us out from our winter slumbers, I have aligned a female image with each rotation to depict the fitness and potential of that rotation. (I know, no novel concept but we all need a little jolt to get us going, don't we?)


1. Marlins:

Will the D Train ever become a Met? 11-2 with a 2.03 in 16 starts lifetime pitching against the Mets of course is not the only reason he'd be an attractive addition but it is certainly a big one in the if-you-can't-beat-him-trade-for-him theory. Behind him is a starting rotation that includes Anibal Sanchez who threw the majors' first no-hitter in 28 months and Josh Johnson who was able to contend for an ERA title before running into September injury problems. Sanchez was 2-0 2.57 against the Mets last season and Johnson by gawd, was 2-0 with a total of 17 shut out innings against the Mets. For added measure, consider Scott Olsen's four starts against the Mets which resulted in a cumulative 3.81 ERA over 26 innings, albeit without a decision in any of them. The Marlins were by far the thorn in the side of the Mets batting order last season and this is why they continue to be ranked at the top.

2. Phillies:

Look out! The Phillies added depth and experience with 6'4 250 pound righty Freddie Garcia pulling off the coup of the NL East starting pitching additions. Effective throughout his career Garcia will likely get that much ballyhooed punch pitching against the NL instead of the AL this season. He has pitched once against the Mets going 9 innings, giving up 6 hits, a lone run and striking out 7). He will join a rotation already effective in the form of Brett Myers (1-1 5.09 v Mets) and Cole Hamels (an 8 inning, four hit shutout in his lone outing against the Mets last season.) They also have the ageless Jamie Moyer (5-2 4.03 post All Star) and Adam Eaton (7-4 5.12 for half a season and a lifetime 3-0 1.35 ERA against the Mets) although Jon Lieber could be gone by the end of Spring Training which will be a relief if he's out of the NL East considering his 2.79 ERA against the Mets last season. By the way, if you think the Mets ad campaigns suck, have a look at the Phillies' Pantyhose for that.

3. Braves:

Don't open your eyes...

These are not the auld Braves chockablock with Cy Young candidates but Smoltz, Chuck James and Tim Hudson are all potentially big in 2007. - With a better 2006 bullpen, Smoltz might have won the Cy Young award. He was 10-4 3.36 after the All Star break, perhaps proof that although he is growing older he is still one of the best pitchers in the NL East. Lefty James had a surprising rookie season and Hudson continues to struggle to regain his magical A's form, like his former teammate Mark Mulder has with the Cards. (More reasons to be glad the Mets didn't sign Zito to an absurdist contract?) The wild card is the return of Mike "Best School District" Hampton who had all of last year off. Other than Smoltz, no Brave starter was particular effective on a consistent basis against the Mets.

4. Mets:

The El Duque Fan Club...

Let's consider it fortunate that the Mets will be going with the 4 innings and a cloud of dust to the bullpen strategy again this year after it was so effective last season. Glavine and El Duque are the old heads attached to an otherwise unknown and unproven collection of potentials. John Maine (6-2 3.28 post All Star), Oliver Perez (1-0 4.63 post season), Aaron Sele (2-4 7.28 post-All Star), Mike Pelfrey (1-1 6.06 post All Star) and Philip Humber are all hoping but none of them, save a few moments in the sun for Sele have been there or done that. The darkhorse surprise is Chan Ho Park (7-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 21 starts, 33-33 since 2001) A post-All Star Pedro could give the Mets some much-needed help whilst the elder Glavine and Duque wear down but the imminent hope is that having forsaken bold off season moves they will be well-prepared to add a solid starter after the All Star break.

5. Nats:

The laughingstocks - the Meat Heads. John Patterson, who is coming off a forearm injury that saw him miss most of laugh season will anchor a rotation that has little else but prospects and vague hopes, delusions of grandeur. This is a rotation other teams will love hitting against.

Next review: the Bullpens...


Itsmetsforme said...

welcome back. But give yourself credit for novelty...
never before has the sexist objectification of women been deployed so skillfully in baseball preview capsules. And we like it.I applaud you sir. Another landmark performance!

Although not many in metsland seem to realize it, I fear the picture you chose for the mets rotation is accurate.

Jaap said...

thanks - sexist objectification is really what baseball is all about when you think about it. Batted balls and all.

what happened to your profile/blog?

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