The starting rotation has more room for improvement than the hitting does, believe it or not:
RA Dickey: 5-20, 5.08 ERA, 4.32 xFIP, 204 1/3 innings: My guess is that Dickey avoids becoming the 2011 Brian Kingman, though a huge area of concern is that multiple times this season, he’s gone away from throwing his knuckleball. Without that weapon, Dickey is merely a Double-A pitcher with a better vocabulary. The xFIP (fielding-independent ERA) suggests he’ll get better results even with his current process.
Jonathan Niese: 8-12, 5.03 ERA, 4.12 xFIP, 193 1/3 innings: Niese has been better than this throughout his career so far, and that xFIP again suggests he’ll improve by doing nothing differently going forward. Definitely take the over here.
Chris Capuano: 12-16, 4.78 ERA, 4.14 xFIP, 173 1/3 innings: Clearly, Capuano has been a competent starter for the Mets. The big question is health, of course, but he’s certainly looked recovered from his recent injury woes. Something worth noting when evaluating Capuano vs. Chris Young- Capuano’s fastball velocity is right in line with where it was at his peak success. Young’s was down considerably. Aside from velocity being a reasonably good indicator of a pitcher’s success, it is an awfully good indicator of a pitcher’s health. I’ll take Capuano at a slight over going forward.
Mike Pelfrey: 12-12, 5.74 ERA, 4.81 xFIP, 169 1/3 innings: I expect Pelfrey to return to the pitcher he’s been for years, which will mean more innings at a lower ERA. The xFIP so far is a bit higher than past seasons, but around 180 innings at a 4.70 ERA clip sounds right from here.
Dillon Gee: 8-0, 4.44 ERA, 4.63 xFIP, 105 1/3 innings: Ah, a perfect example of the uselessness of won-loss record. Gee has pitched to the meh performance one would expect. Interestingly, as per ERA+, he’s been the best starter by far among the five currently in the rotation, and his ERA+ is a relatively poor 85.
Overall, this is a thoroughly average group. However, they’ve been pitching far below that average, in terms of results. I expect this to improve. It will take a return from Johan Santana, however, and no further injuries (though Pat Misch can provide similar results to the current ones) to assure the improvement.