Let’s take a look at the starting rotations of the Phillies and Mets.
Brett Myers: His mental make-up is better suited to a closer role, but his stuff and rubber arm are workhorse starter material. The only thing keeping Myers from being dominant rests on his shoulders. If he can stay loose and just hurl, he’ll be part of a devastating 1-2 punch at the top of the Phillies rotation.
Cole Hamels: I firmly believe that Hamels will be as good as or better than Johan Santana… in two years. Arguably the best change-up in baseball, above average fastball and an improving curve. Bad news: He got hurt again last year. Good news: He returned to form without further problems. Hamels is a legit ace, whether he’s the Opening Day starter or not.
Kyle Kendrick: I really don’t think Kenrick is a flash in the pan. He kept his ERA under 4.00 in 20 starts, not five or six. That means hitters didn’t exactly “figure him out," and he gave the Phillies’ rotation some much needed stability. He doesn’t throw very hard, but he keeps the ball down, a must at Citizens Bank Park. Spring has been rough, but hitters are always ahead of pitchers at this point.
Jamie Moyer: The perfect tutor for the rest of the rotation. Moyer throws about as hard as me, but he might be the smartest pitcher in baseball. He was brilliant in his postseason start and always manages to keep the Phillies in the game. Moyer’s consistency and cool demeanor will be a godsend for Charlie Manuel.
Fill in the blank: Adam Eaton? JD Durbin? Chad Durbin? Travis Blackley? I still like JD Durbin’s stuff if he can develop some consistency, and he proved last year that he can’t pitch out of the bullpen. Chad Durbin is a journeyman better suited to long relief. Blackley is intriguing as a lefty but still a bit of an unknown quantity. I refuse to include Adam Eaton in the discussion. This just in… he still stinks.
Johan Santana: I wish I could politically spin this into something negative, but I can’t. Moving to a pitcher’s park in the National League, I expect Santana to shave at least a half of a run off his ERA. I could analyze his game, but everyone knows how great he is. His biggest obstacle on his way to a Cy Young Award is the Mets offense, which could potentially plague every Mets starter.
Pedro Martinez: Talk about a wild card! Pedro says he’s healthier than he’s been in years. I usually take that statement with a grain of salt in March, but in Pedro’s case, it could mean a return to dominance. He doesn’t blow hitters away anymore, but he still averages a strikeout per inning with a vastly underrated pitching intellect. As always, durability is the big question mark. Even Pedro doesn’t know if he’s good for 25 starts, and he only topped out at 87 mph in a recent simulated game.
John Maine: Which John Maine will show up? The guy who was 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA before the All-Star break, or the guy who had an Eaton-esque 5.53 ERA in the second half? I’m guessing you’ll see an ERA hovering around 4.00, with brilliant outings mixed in with some duds.
Oliver Perez: Another maddeningly inconsistent Mets starter who is prone to occasional wildness (23 walks over five starts from late August into September). His velocity is back in the mid-90’s and he’s in a contract year, so I would expect a better season from Perez than Maine:
Orlando Hernandez/Mike Pelfrey: El Duque somehow gets batters out when he’s healthy, which isn’t too often. Pelfrey isn’t quite the gem that everyone thought he was a couple years ago. These guys won’t set the world on fire, but they’ll keep the Mets competitive.
With the addition of Santana and the Phillies conundrum at the back of the rotation, you have to give the edge to the Mets, although I think the Phillies will be more consistent. Fortunately, the Phillies offense makes any ERA under 5.00 look good. Game on.