4:26 pm May. 3, 2012
When Mike Pelfrey went down with a season-ending elbow injury, the New York Mets turned to Chris Schwinden to fill Pelfrey's spot in the rotation.
Through two starts, it hasn't gone so well.
Schwinden was lit up for five runs over four innings on Wednesday afternoon in Houston's 8-1 victory over the New York Mets. Through two starts, Schwinden has an unsightly 11.25 E.R.A., having allowed four home runs and three walks. He has struck out one batter.
After the game, manager Terry Collins did not give Schwinden a vote of confidence for making his next start, and indicated that the Mets are evaluating their other options.
The problem, unfortunately, is the lack of decent options is what landed Schwinden in that spot in the first place.
On the big league roster, the Mets have Miguel Batista, who is employed principally to spot-start or provide innings in long relief when a Met starter falters early. But Batista, 41, has been awful this year, with as many walks as innings pitched and a 6.92 E.R.A. His one start was ugly—he didn't make it out of the fourth inning—and his ability to pitch at even replacement level is extremely doubtful.
Should New York turn to Triple-A, they have Garrett Olson, a failed major-league starter who has walked nearly five hitters per nine innings so far this season, Jeremy Hefner, who isn't fooling Triple-A hitters, suggesting he'd get knocked around as well, or they could rush a pair of their top prospects, 2010 top pick Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia. The former is still learning how to pitch, while the latter is struggling mightily with his control.
The other potential starter is Chris Young, who you might remember from his cameo last season. Young, once an All-Star with the San Diego Padres, signed a minor-league deal with the Mets this spring. And he was awfully effective for New York in 2011, pitching to a 1.88 E.R.A.
But Young put up those numbers in just four starts before getting shelved for the season with shoulder surgery. The budget-conscious Mets could afford him this year because of that injury, and last year because he'd only made four starts for the Padres in 2010. So not only is Young recovering from surgery, and estimated to be around a month away, he hasn't lasted long in a major league season in years. The last time he threw more than 102 1/3 innings was 2007.
In a perfect world for the Mets, either Schwinden or Hefner comes up with a few good starts until Young gets back, and then Young pitches just well enough to allow Harvey to dominate Triple-A and force the Mets to bring him up late in the year, taking New York to the end of the season with Pelfrey's spot. That's how patchwork roster construction works; hoping for a bunch of best-case scenarios.
Heaven help the Mets if another pitcher gets injured.