Don’t Pull Maine From Rotation Just Yet

After John Maine‘s bad outing the other night there was talk of Maine being pulled from the Mets starting rotation. Manager Jerry Manuel actually had to sleep on the decision before coming out yesterday to say that Maine would remain in the rotation. I’m trying to figure out what the big deal is about.

Yes, Maine has had a lousy start to the season. His start the other night in Colorado, in which he gave up 8 earned runs in 3 innings, juiced his ERA up to 13.50. He’s allowed 18 hits in 15 innings. Obviously the numbers are lousy. But does that warrant being pulled from the rotation at this point in the season?

I say no.

For starters it’s only a week into the season. Very few players, particularly pitchers, are in midseason form at this point. Obviously Maine isn’t and needs a little more time to get there. But even if this was July I’d say that two starts shouldn’t get him pulled from the rotation. The only times someone should be pulled from the rotation based on two starts is when he’s hurt or in the late parts of a pennant race when you’re trying to get your best pitchers more starts to seal a playoff berth.

Besides, who would replace him in the rotation? Jenrry Mejia would be a candidate but he’s too busy becoming the next Joba Chamberlain in the Mets bullpen instead of starting games at AAA. The Mets don’t have any other established starters and the prospect of Bobby Parnell or Pat Misch is not that appetizing.

The argument that your number two starter can’t be pitching this badly is moot. The juggling of the rotation that started the season (in which Oliver Perez was pushed further back to start against the Nationals) was less an assignment of starters 2 through 5 than it was a message to Perez to settle down veiled in a strategic move to have him pitch against a lineup he’d have a better shot against and proves that management knows that their current numbers 2 through 5 are interchangeable. Maine is not actually the number 2 starter anyway. The Mets have no number 2 starter. They have Johan Santana and four number 4 starters.

And if Maine is pulled from the rotation what he do? His trade value would drop even lower than it already is and he’d get no work out of the bullpen.

At this point in the season Maine needs to be coached, trained and worked if he’s going to have any chance at all of coming around. It’s way too early to be giving up on him.

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