John Maine can pitch on the monkeys team anytime. When the Mets needed a big victory against the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, Maine came through with a huge effort. With everything crumbling around him the last weekend of 2007, Maine pitched a near no-hitter to keep the Mets hopes alive. He displays an aw shucks attitude reminiscent of Matt Saracen on "Friday Night Lights." He is a gamer in every sense of the word. So when he says he still feels a little pain when he throws, you know it hurts like hell.
For 2 starts, Maine was able to pitch effectively though not deep into games with a limited arsenal. Last Saturday's effort was a little more than alarming. The Mets are considering shutting him down which is probably the best idea although with Pelfrey's innings total piling up, the timing is a bit off to do that. Many fans are clamoring for Jon Niese, but need to realize he is in the same territory as Pelfrey in terms of increasing innings totals. The Mets should be shutting down Niese at this point not bringing him up to the majors.
For those talking heads on tv or radio call in shows who say the pitchers should suck it up, I suggest referring back to SI's Tom Verducci's past columns regarding pitchers with the most innings increases from year to year. He does a story on this every offseason and his predictions as to which pitchers will be injured or have off years are far more accurate than his predictions for division winners. This is serious stuff.
So with the Mets needing to be careful with their young pitchers, they are in a bit of a quandary. If it is indeed true that Maine cannot make his arm worse, it might be worth it to try him one more start and see what happens before giving his spot over to a guy like Nelson Figueroa. Brian Stokes can make a spot start or two, but you really don't him to be a fixture the rest of the way. Hard to believe, but Claudio Vargas' injury in AAA is looming large.
We all expected the bullpen to be a nervous issue, but having to worry about the starters is a new unfortunate wrinkle.