April 17, 2007

Future Stars?

Howard Megdal at Gotham Baseball, writes about John Maine, Oliver Perez and asks the question," Are these two future stars?":

Careful observers of the species known as the unproven pitcher were wary of those penciling in John Maine and Oliver Perez for co-winners of the 2007 Cy Young Award after each pitcher’s first start. The 25-year-old Maine has the unlikely problem of difficulty locating his fastball—his secondary stuff, normally the troublemaker for an uneven starter, meekly follows his orders.

Maine stayed calm and battled when his inside-out pitching went awry- he managed to keep the Mets in the game on Monday. Maine can be very good, only more so--witness his seven innings of one-hit ball, or his 26 consecutive shutout innings last summer.

Oliver Perez is no different. After shutting down the Braves so convincingly, a far less impressive Perez (to put it mildly) showed the Phillies that two-out hits are overrated when two-out walks are available.

Many have seen more than a bit of Sandy Koufax in 25-year-old Perez (though clearly that is best-case scenario talking), but it is important not to let such optimism be destroyed by one outing. The Koufax legend is that Sandy suddenly “found it,” but the reality involves much more of Sandy asking, “Where did I see it last?” and looking plaintively behind the couch.

He had a consolidation season in 1961 after toning down the fastball at the behest of catcher Norm Sherry, and though he managed to strike out 269 hitters in 255 innings and win 18 games, he failed to reach the fifth inning in 7 of his 35 starts- 20% of the time he still wasn’t Sandy Koufax, legend at age 25. In fact, Koufax was 0-3 in those seven starts, allowing 33 earned runs in 22 total innings for a 13.50 ERA.

It is likely that the Mets knew they could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride when they hitched their wagons to a pair of young pitchers, though 13 walks in two games might be more of a sudden lurch than they expected. The fact is, after four starts, Perez and Maine have combined for a 2.54 ERA—that which is supposed to panic Mets fans is, taken as a whole, greatly exceeding expectations.

No comments: