Second Time Around The Orange Rotation

Reviewing the second trip through the New York Mets rotation:

Bartolo Colon (2-0) 7 innings, 3ER, 6H, 5K, 0 BB (.77 WHIP, 2.77 ERA)

Jacob deGrom (1-1) 6.1 innings, 0 ER, 7 H,  3 K, 0 BB, (1.30 WHIP, 1.46 ERA)

Matt Harvey (2-0) 6 innings, 3 ER, 5 H, 8 K, 0 BB, (.83 WHIP, 2.25 ERA)

Jonathan Niese (1-0) 6.1 innings, 1 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 0 BB, (1.76 WHIP, 1.59 ERA)

Dillon Gee (0-1) 5.2 innings, 4 ER, 5 H, 8 K, 0 BB, (1.41 WHIP, 7.59 ERA)

Best Start – While the obvious choice would be the reigning rookie of the year shining in the afternoon sun on Opening Day in Queens, the correct answer is Jon Niese to complete the sweep of the Phillies.

After a disappointing start to his season, our mercurial lefty took to the mound the day after the Face of the Franchise limped off the field. It’s the kind of game that can define a season; one where a teammate goes down and the. The team collapses without him.

And while things didn’t start off ideally with a lead off triple by Urbual Herrera and Chase Utley getting his 4th RBI of the series. But then Niese closed the door and pitched his way through five more frames.

Notice I didn’t say dominate. He pitched well enough to win, not hurting himself as another Mets starter went without allowing a free pass. He pitched out of jams, stranding multiple runners in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings.

And while he only got one out in the 7th, it was the aforementioned Utley who’s easily the best bat in their lineup.

Worst Start – While the obvious choice is Dillon Gee getting roughed up by the Marlins, his major mistake was giving up a couple of long balls and he nearly exited the 6th inning allowing just three runs.

But I believe a highly critical finger can be pointed at Matt Harvey for his return to Citi Field. As Bob Klapish states, he proved he was actually human.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation from his first steps onto the field and at first, he didn’t disappoint. Striking out the first two batters had Citi sounding like Shea circa whichever great Met you want to bring up.

Seaver with two strikes in ’69. McGraw on the mound in ’73 about to save a game. Gooden’s hook in full twirl in ’85. Cone striking out 19 Phillies in ’88. Leiter in ’99. R.A. Dickey fluttering up another knuckleball on his way to a Cy Young Award that would eventually net us not only our starting catcher, but Thor.

All of that was swelling up in the hearts and minds of every Met fan in attendance, watching SNY, or listening to Howie Rose on WOR like I was. He was one strike away from completing the dream inning.

And I’ve witnessed a dream inning. I was in the stands at Fenway Park in 1999 when Pedro Martinez struck out the first three batters of the All-Star Game. This was after everyone wiped their eye watching the convergence of players surrounding Ted Williams.

Then Pedro, in the tail end of the Steriods Era, went out and silenced the bats of Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa before a national audience and a crowd that is surely recalled by more people then were actually in the building.

He returned for the second and struck out Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell, but the crescendo had been reached when he walked off the mound, defiant and strong in the knowledge that he’d produced a moment never to be forgotten.

It clearly wasn’t that level of national attention, but Harvey had a chance for something similar. It could have been a moment for Met fans, to convince the doubters and naysayers that this year would be different…

Then a two-strike curveball hung a bit too much and Utley looped it into the right field seats.

The silence from the crowd was deafening. And it didn’t matter that Harvey came back and struck out Ryan Howard to end the inning. It was the start of one of the strangest game in a long time, one that also saw the Captain limp off the field after stealing a base.

The Mets would go on to win the game. Harvey’s performance was still pretty good and his WHIP is still less than 1. But there was a chance for a memorable moment and instead we received heartache and pain. Missing that moment makes this the worst start.

What’s Next – The Mets finish off a series with the Fish featuring Harvey vs. Mike Stanton, who’s homered off each starter so far in this series. After that, they’ll face the back end of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation as this first homestand comes to a close.

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