Sunday, April 18, 2010

Maine Moves Front-and-Center

With the excitement surrounding yesterday’s 20-inning victory all but subsided, the question that still lingers in Mets fans’ minds is how well their starting pitcher, John Maine, will fair in the rubber game against the Cardinals tonight. Maine’s previous outing in which he allowed eight earned runs in just three innings was embarrassing to say the least.

Considered a wake-up call by his manager, Maine’s meek performance last time out forced him to abandon the teachings of his pitching coach and proceed with what got him here…fastballs, fastballs, fastballs. The concern though for Mets manager Jerry Manuel is if the right-hander can control them. Since undergoing a procedure to remove a bone spur in his right shoulder, Maine has been unable to regain his velocity and the ability to locate his fastball, his signature pitch.

After three rigorous bullpen sessions, the Mets front office hopes that Maine will be able to return to pre-2008 numbers. In 2007, Maine won fifteen games striking out 180 batters and holding major league hitters to a .235 batting average.

Last night’s victory although necessary, taxed an already overworked Mets bullpen. That being said, Maine will not only have to control his fastball but he’ll also have to make sure to keep his pitch count down to get him past the third inning.

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