Opinion: Who Is No. 3?

While Willie Randolph thinks five runs and three home runs allowed in six innings is pitching “pretty well,” as he said to reporters last night, the truth is, Oliver Perez has an ERA above eight in his last three starts.

Last night was encouraging, but even Randolph admits Perez’s inconsistency. Mike Pelfrey is just as unreliable, and unlike Perez, he has yet to find success at the big-league level.

Does that make Nelson Figueroa the current No. 3 starter?

Figueroa may be the least-skilled of the three, and have the least impressive resume, but as of now he’s been the most even-keeled and unflappable – while Perez and Big Pelf tend to unravel under adverse conditions. That said, currently I’d be inclined to give the ball to Figueroa in a “must win” situation. And that’s a bad sign for the Mets.

I’m a huge Figueroa fan, but if he remains their third-best starter, the Mets will have their hands full getting into the postseason.  Figueroa should be a pleasant surprise at the back end of the rotation – not a go-to guy.  Luckily “It’s early as far as pitching is concerned,” as Randolph said after last night’s game, so there’s time for Perez to get on track – and/or Pedro Martinez to get healthy.