If not Ollie, then who?
Though wasn’t ready to come out and say it, Jerry Manuel seemed all but committed to removing Oliver Perez from the Mets rotation after Perez’s latest stinker Friday night in Miami.
But who might replace him?
THE FAVORITE: Hisanori Takahashi, LHP
You know Takahashi for his versatility out of the bullpen, giving the Mets everything from three innings of stellar relief to some one-batter reprieves. But Takahashi, 35, was previously a rotation stalwart in Japan, going 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA last season for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League. Two years earlier, he was 14-4 with a 2.75 mark, throwing 186 2/3 innings. Could Takahashi replicate those numbers with the Mets? Of course not. Major League hitters are stronger and more advanced. But once stretched out, a process that would take a few weeks, Takahashi could certainly act as a serviceable fifth starter — something Perez was unable to do.
THE SAFE BET: Pat Misch, LHP
Giving the injury-ravaged Mets 59 valuable innings down the stretch last season, Misch, 28, proved that he could (somewhat) hang with the big boys, going 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA. Given another opportunity, Misch — who has a 2-0 record and 4.15 ERA through six starts for Triple-A Buffalo — would probably give the Mets more of the same. It’s unlikely that he would thrive in the Majors, but it’s equally unlikely that he would get blown out of the stadium. Those aren’t bad traits to have for a fifth starter, which is precisely what the Mets need. But his raw stuff is not as good as that of Takahashi.
THE DARK HORSE: R.A. Dickey, RHP
He’s a knuckleballer, which tells you all you need to know about Dickey, really. Born without an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, Dickey reinvented himself with the fluttering pitch earlier this decade, and has seen some tangible success at Triple-A this season: a 4-2 record and 2.23 ERA, including a complete game one-hitter last month. It would be a neat story if Dickey returned to the big leagues and flourished as a knuckleballer, even for a while. But the Mets have more dynamic (Takahashi) and safer (Misch) options, so it’s unlikely they will go down this route, even despite Dickey’s recent success.