If about a month ago you asked a Mets fan who was the most pleasant surprise this season, you’d have a lot of responses. R.A. Dickey. Ike Davis. Angel Pagan.
All very deserving names. Another name that would’ve been on that list is 35-year-old Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi.
He wasn’t untouchable coming out of the bullpen, but he was more than serviceable, posting a 3.12 ERA as a reliever. When John Maine and Oliver Perez had to be pulled from the rotation due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness, Takahashi was chosen to take one of the open spots in the rotation.
His first two starts were outstanding, against two of the best offensive teams in baseball. Against the Yankees in his first start, he shutout the Yankees for six innings. In his next start against NL East rival Philadelphia, he did the same.
After struggling in two starts against the Padres and the Marlins, he threw seven innings of one-run ball in Baltimore, and then threw six more shutout innings against the Yankees.
Since then, it has been a complete implosion. He’s allowed six earned runs in three of his past four starts, knocking the team out of contention early in those games.
Word is that Oliver Perez will be joining the team soon, but nonetheless, Mets manager Jerry Manuel has told the media that Takahashi will indeed start Thursday against the Dodgers.
Much of what may have made Takahashi so effective was the unfamiliarity of the rest of the league with him. Hitters had complained there was too much uncertainty of what pitch would be coming to get comfortable at the plate, and Takahashi’s deceptive delivery didn’t do them any favors.
Now that “the book” is out on Takahashi, it’s gotten more difficult for him, and that’s been shown in his most recent pitching lines.
He doesn’t throw hard, so he can’t depend on blowing batters away. At this point, the hitters have adjusted to Takahashi. Now he needs to adjust back, or the Mets will be hurting for another starting pitcher even more than they are now.