The starting pitching at a glance

Heading into 2012, the projected starting rotation for the Mets consists of Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, and Dillon Gee.

Last year, the members of this rotation won 39 games (with Gee winning 13 of those 39), and pitched to a 4.17 ERA, walking 234 and striking out 491 and allowing 71 home runs in 720 1/3 innings pitched combined and averaged just over six innings per start.

According to FanGraphs, Bill James predicts Gee will go 8-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 160 innings, Niese will go 9-10 with a 4.28 ERA in 160 innings, Dickey will go 12-11 with a 3.89 ERA, Pelfrey will go 9-11 with a 4.36 ERA in 188 innings, and Santana will go 14-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 189 innings.

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Michael Baron: The only prediction I question is the one for Santana, only because I don’t know if he will be able to throw that many innings right now. It concerns me that there is so much of a dependency on Santana’s return from capsule surgery. Despite the belief he is ready to go for Spring Training, there are so many unknowns as to how he will respond to the rigors of camp and each Grapefruit League outing, let alone his ability to consistently contribute at the major league level. It all looks good in January when he’s throwing to Terry Collins in shorts and sunglasses, but it’s a whole other story five weeks from now.

By far the rotation is the Mets weakest link coming into the season and, at least on paper, they represent the weakest rotation in the NL East heading into the season. The problem is, if there are health and/or performance issues with any of these starting pitchers, there isn’t much depth behind them to rescue the staff. Needless to say, this is a big season for Pelfrey and Niese; both need to improve the overall quality and tempo of their innings and grow into their raw talents by both developing and commanding their secondary pitches. The stuff is there with these guys – but their time is right now to put it all together.

In regards to Gee, his success will be determined by his ability to use all of his pitches and make better in-game adjustments. His stuff is better than advertised – he throws a fastball in the low 90s with a very good change-up and breaking ball and he has command of all of those pitches. The problem last year for Gee was too many times he got away from using his secondary pitches in the middle of games. Now that he’s had greater exposure to the league, it’s that much more important he use his entire repertoire consistently in his outings.