Day 3 of this segment will look at the many members of this year's Mets starting rotation.
Johan Santana - Despite what I perceive to be a gradual decline, Santana is still the Mets' ace and one of the best pitchers in the game. I do not think he will be shopped in the offseason even though a prospect package and salary relief would be tremendously beneficial to them. He may not be untradeable anymore, but with the Mets front office perpetually believing they're one piece away from a championship, he'll most likely be our 2010 opening day starter.
Mike Pelfrey - Next season will assuredly be career-defining for Big Pelf. The tall, powerful sinkerballer has been incredibly inconsistent from start to start, and even from inning to inning. For all his obvious talents on the mound, Pelfrey has obvious mental issues. He fidgets constantly, leading to a ridiculous number of balks. He appears detached at times, and other times he will get into a jawing match with a batter for seemingly no reason. If Pelfrey doesn't put it all together next season, it will likely be his last in New York, or at least his last in the rotation.
John Maine - Maine is expected to pitch the last couple of weeks this season, possibly from the bullpen. From there we should know what to expect next season. The Mets still control him in 2010, but whether he can be counted on to fill a rotation spot with his injury history remains to be seen. I like John Maine as a pitcher. He has an aggressive, bulldog mentality on the mound, which I think would be great in a relief role should it come to that. I expect he'll be in the rotation in 2010, but there's a fair chance he'll be sent to the 'pen.
Oliver Perez - What can I say about Perez that hasnt been said every day for the last 4 months? Ollie is a terrible pitcher who will continue to be sent out every fifth day because of his joke of a contract. He makes $12 million each of the next 2 years. I will gladly eat a plate of crow if he puts together a magical season next year, but don't hold your breath. Thinking about Perez in a Met uniform for 2 more years makes me want to throw large fruit off a tall building so I'll leave it at that.
Bobby Parnell - As Parnell himself has so graciously demonstrated, he does not belong in a major league starting rotation. He'll return to a middle relief role next year unless he discovers a treasure chest this winter containing fastball command and off-speed pitches. He'll be an average or maybe above-average reliever with the heat he throws, but he's not rotation-ready quite yet.
Tim Redding - GAG! That's all I have to say. Next please.
Nelson Figueroa - Figgy has good stuff and has been a decent fill in for a decimated rotation, but he's 35 years old and has never really had an extended period of success in his career. The Mets will probably let him walk. He seems to like New York though, so he could be willing to accept another minor league contract if he can't find a big league gig somewhere else.
Fernando Nieve - Nieve pitched extremely well in limited action before (surprise) getting hurt. From what I heard, he was pitching with a lot more confidence than he did in Houston, and was more willing to use his off-speed stuff in fastball counts. I think he'll be a good candidate for a long relief role, and he could even sneak into the rotation with a great spring.
Jonathan Niese - Like Nieve, Niese pitched well in his few starts before getting injured. The true shame of it is that this was his chance to prove what he could do in the bigs. A good performance could have cemented him a starting job next season. Don't kid yourself, a hamstring tear is a serious injury. Even if Niese is ready to pitch come spring training, it might take a while to fully recover from that injury, perhaps even a full season. When it's all said and done, I think he'll end up starting for AAA Buffalo in 2010, but like his similarly-named counterpart Nieve, could grab the 4th or 5th rotation spot with a good showing next spring.