Stats & Info: Jon Niese

Ethier brings long hit streak to New York

May, 6, 2011
Andre Ethier
The last time a Dodger brought as long a hitting streak as Andre Ethier is into a meeting with the New York Mets, an ESPN baseball analyst named Bobby Valentine was making his big league debut.

Willie Davis was able to extend his hitting streak to a club-record 30 games in a meeting with the Mets on Sept. 2, 1969. But later in the game, after a call of “In comes Valentine!” from Los Angeles Dodgers radio voice Vin Scully on a two-run single by Andy Kosco, Mets reliever Tug McGraw struck Davis out with the tying run on third base to end a 5-4 Mets victory, one of many amazing wins for the eventual champs. Davis upped his streak to 31 the next day, a number that still stands as the Dodgers' top mark.

Ethier will get a chance to better Davis at Citi Field, with Jonathon Niese the first moundsman in his way.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ethier will be the fifth hitter to bring a hit streak of 29 or more games into a meeting with the Mets, along with Davis, Pete Rose, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Rose was able to set the NL record for a hitting streak by hitting in his 37th, 38th and 39th straight games against the Mets in 1978. (The streak would stretch to 44 games before ending.)

Rollins reached 33 games with hits in three straight games against the Mets late in 2005. The one hitter the Mets stymied was his teammate, Utley, who had his 35-gamer snuffed on Aug. 4, 2006 by Orlando Hernandez, Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano.

Ethier will have to defy his history against the Mets. His. 147 batting average is the third-worst of any position player with 100 at-bats against them, trailing Jerry Turner (.129) and Clint Barmes (.140).

To see how Ethier and his streak could fare against the Mets starters that are lined up for their weekend series, check this out.

BP: Johan, Maine, and pray for … Perez

March, 25, 2010
Over at BP, we might currently have the Mets projected to win just 78 games this year, but as with any projection, there's some wiggle room. Or in the Mets' case, a lot of wiggle room. Some of my colleagues argue that the Mets could win anywhere between 92 games and 72, and a big part of the reason why they could end up on either end of that range is their enigmatic rotation. Let's see if the staff really has that kind of upside.

Start with Johan Santana. His injury-shortened 2009 season still generated 4.9 wins via support-neutral lineup-adjusted value above replacement (SNLVAR). That's good, but it was also a 3.4-win drop from his first season as a Met in 2008 (8.3), in no small part because of the nine starts he lost to a bum elbow. Any hope of a Mets revival revolves around Santana regaining his 2008 form.

The real wild cards are Oliver Perez and John Maine. Perez's career has veered from excellence to horror with a dash of the DL to make him one of the least-certain commodities in a major league rotation. His SNLVAR value was above 4.0 in 2007 and 2008, and bottomed out at zero in last season's wild, injury-wracked campaign. PECOTA's projections for him anticipate a rebound less than halfway back, to 1.7, but he's being paid to be the four-win pitcher the Mets need. Maine's fall from grace has been just as steep, a four-win drop from his 5.6 SNLVAR season in 2007 to 1.6 last year in 15 turns. Here again, PECOTA's shy about damaged goods, going for 2.3 wins as a baseline; pretend he gets to 32 starts again, and you might have a guy back up over 3.0.

For homegrown goodies, there's the hope that Mike Pelfrey might bounce back from a crummy sophomore campaign (2.3 SNLVAR) and repeat his rookie bust-out (5.6). He should regain some of that lost ground, but the more fundamental problem is that he'll need to beat his one-trick pony rep as the big man with the big sinker handicapped by weak off-speed stuff. In the fifth slot, lefty Jon Niese is the likely choice. Though he doesn't project as a star, he should be an improvement on Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding, with a base projection of 2.1 SNLVAR, but the possibility he pushes that up around 3.0.

You should see the problem: The expected outcomes don't really net you any huge improvements. Cherry-pick the best recent seasons -- Santana and Pelfrey in '08, Maine and Perez in '07 -- and you wind up with a sunniest scenario where the club nets more than 10 wins from its rotation on its projected season tally of 78. Santana's return to greatness would be a major part of it, as would Pelfrey's picking up something with wiggle to fool lefties more reliably. But so much also depends on Perez and Maine bouncing back to health and excellence that you can see why the skeptics are right to expect another underwhelming season in Queens.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.