Friday, April 16, 2010

An Interesting Series in St. Louis

Wins make everything better. The despair and depression of the horrible start has been forgotten for at least 24 hours thanks to Mike Pelfrey's stellar performance yesterday afternoon in Denver.

But reality will return this evening as the Mets visit Pujols and company in St. Louis. The Cardinals and modern miracle worker Dave Duncan are off to a good start and look like a team built to win it all. For the Mets this series will give us some answers to some interesting questions plaguing this team. Those questions are:

Will the old John Maine return?
Much has been made of the fact that Sunday's prime time start for Maine could be a deciding one as to Maine's long term place on this team. Not sure why the pressure is being put on Maine and not on Perez too, but the fact is if Maine falters early and lets up some big runs, he might find himself banished to the bullpen or even worse, sent to the minors. If Maine pitches well he lives to play another day. For how long is debatable.

Can Reyes bat third?
Jerry Manuel will get to see if his lineup skills are in order as he plans to move Jose Reyes down in the order to the #3 spot with Angel Pagan batting leadoff. I'm still not a fan of this, but if Reyes bats .400 for the series this could be a more permanent move until Beltran returns from the disable list. If Reyes bat .120 then it's just another notch in the fire Jerry Manuel belt.

Is Oliver Perez still a big game pitcher?
While the Saturday afternoon game on FOX isn't exactly a Game 7 of the World Series matchup, it's still an early season high profile game in which Perez has excelled in the past. Amidst his mental issues and on mound implosions Perez has historically done well against big name teams like the Braves, Phils and Yankees. If Perez can't even provide one of these magical moments every once in a while he's beyond useless to this team. If he pitches well, his confidence should increase and we may see him ride the high for a few starts.

Is this Jeff Franceour for real?
Frenchie has been white hot to start the season. This weekend he'll face some pretty solid pitching which should let us see if he's really improved his swing in the offseason or if he'll be brought back down to earth. Honestly, I think his swing has improved and he's even taken some pitches which were typical Franceour swings in years past. I hope he shows us that he's the real deal that was so hyped in his early days with Atlanta.

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