**Pictured Above Mets Pitcher Oliver Perez**

Written By: Alex Lowenthal

The Mets’ pitching situation is anything but solid or comforting to fans this year.  Johan Santana is the only bankable pitcher.  Yes we know a few other definite starters, but Johan is actually expected to hold up his end of the bargain.  What about the others?

Oliver Perez is going to be the Mets number 3 starter.  We know he has a ton of talent, but he is one of the most erratic pitchers in the league.  We never know which Perez will show up on any given day, and his health is also a big question mark.  He returned to the mound yesterday making his first start since August 23, when he suffered season-ending knee surgery.  He gave up 7 hits and 5 runs in just three innings yesterday.

Is this all bad? It’s definitely not good.  However, he did throw a ton of strikes, with a 2 to 1 walk to strikeout ratio.  He said his goal was to throw strikes and mix in his “slurve”, while feeling healthy.  He said afterwards that he felt healthy, and was in command of his pitches. It’s a start for Perez.

The better story of yesterday’s game was Ollie’s relief.  35 year old rookie Hisanori Takahashi came in in the 4th inning and had a pretty decent inning.  He struck out the side on 10 pitches.  He threw 3 shutout innings, throwing 34 strikes in 42 pitches, struck out 6, allowing only 1 single.  Jerry Manual was very impressed, saying that they would definitely find a way to use him in the opening day lineup if he continues this success.  I think he’s likely to be a long reliever.  Mets minor leaguer, Pat Misch came on for the final three innings, allowed no runs, 3 hits and struck out 3 while getting the save.  The Mets beat the Nationals 6-5.

Today the Mets were running on all cylinders as they beat the Marlins, 11-2.  John Maine got the nod, and In 1 2/3 innings, he struck out four and gave up one run.  Jenrry Mejia shined once again, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.  The 20 year old hasn’t allowed a run yet this Spring.

With four weeks left until opening day, we have an idea of the Mets’ probable starting rotation.

Here’s what it looks like:

Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Jon Niese

Fernando Nieve and Niese are battling for that fifth spot, but I think it will go to Niese.

Can this rotation contend for a pennant? Or even a playoff birth?

Side Notes

1. Jason Bay had an RBI single in the 1st inning today.

2. Chris Carter homered twice in the Mets’, 8-run 9th inning.

3. Rod Barajas homered today, in his quest to be the starting catcher over Omir Santos and Henry Blanco

4. Johan Santana makes his first start tomorrow against Houston at 1:10pm