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Monday, March 9, 2009
Pedro's not the answer for Mets' fifth starter role

As Bart Hubbuch writes, Sunday wasn't a good day for the Mets' No. 5 starter candidates. …

If I may … it was The Netherlands. Three innings. In March. Against The Netherlands.

I'm not saying the guy can't pitch. I'm saying the evidence that he can pitch is just a tiny bit greater today than a week ago. By the same token, the evidence that a fifth starter can't be found among Tim Redding, Freddy Garcia, Livan Hernandez and Bobby Parnell is just slightly larger today than it was yesterday morning.

Granted, we already had plenty of evidence about most of them. Does anyone really need to be reminded that Livan Hernandez posted a 6.05 ERA last year? Or that Freddy Garcia has won two games since 2006? Or that Bobby Parnell spent most of last season in Double-A and wasn't brilliantly impressive there?

The fifth candidate for the fifth slot is Jonathon Niese, who for a spell last season was Parnell's Double-A teammate. The difference is that Niese pitched exceptionally well with Binghamton and he thrived after his promotion to Triple-A New Orleans.

This is -- or should be -- a two-man battle between Niese and Tim Redding. Not that Redding's good … but then, most fifth starters aren't. You're just looking for a guy who can keep you in most games for five or six innings, and Redding's got a decent shot of doing that. Niese is only 22, and perhaps it's too much to ask him for 30 starts and 180 innings. But I have to think that between Redding and Niese the Mets can cobble together a No. 5 starter who won't kill them.