While most of the Mets are enjoying a relaxing day off in Florida, several of the starting pitchers are working hard today. Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia are going up against each other in a minor league game. And John Maine canceled a golf game to work on his mechanics.
It seems like Hernandez has all but locked up the fifth spot in the rotation. The Mets even insist that they’ll use five starting pitchers to begin the season. I’m not sure why they would do that when they really don’t need a fifth starter for several weeks. Hernandez has proved himself able to work as well as possible with well below average stuff. He’s got a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 spring innings. You certainly can’t ask for more than that from a fifth starter.
Contrast that with Freddy Garcia, who looks like he’s got a long way to go before he’s ready to face major league hitters. He’s got a 16.71 ERA in 7 innings of work so far. The only way you could describe his work this spring is “ugly”. He’ll have a big decision coming up soon. That’s whether he wants to pitch at Triple-A Buffalo and hope for an opening with the Mets at some point this season or if he wants to be released. If he’s released he could get a shot at a job at the major league level somewhere else. Honestly, I don’t even think that the Dodgers would take him now. And they’re really hurting for starting pitchers.
John Maine is working on an ERA over 10 so far this spring and just really looks out of sorts. I don’t take too much from that because I’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy. But there is reason for concern that he just hasn’t been able to recover from the offseason shoulder surgery that he had. He’s locked into the #4 spot in the rotation no matter what right now. But if he has a couple of bad starts at the beginning of the season we’ll all need to be concerned.