John Maine Is Your Key Mets Pitcher of the Season

A healthy and productive Maine is integral to any Mets success

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    If the Mets rotation were to put on a clubhouse production of "The A-Team," three of the roles would be easy to cast.

    Johan Santana would pick up the cigar and play the role of Hannibal as both men are the savvy leaders of their units. Mike Pelfrey would wear Mr. T's mohawk as B.A. Baracus, which seems like a stretch until you realize that both are big men with fatal flaws. B.A. is scared of flying, Pelfrey is scared of his breaking stuff and both of them get exploited because of it. Oliver Perez is, obviously, Murdock and should probably also spend his time in between missions/starts at an insane asylum. 

    That leaves only the role of Face, the guy who morphed to fill whatever role the team needed and who used his skills to provide whatever equipment they needed to get the job done. The Mets don't have a natural for that role, but they'd really like to see John Maine earn it this season. 

    Like Face, Maine tries to use brains over brawn to get the job done, something that might explain why he has so much trouble finishing off hitters. Some things work better on 80's action shows than on the diamond. Injuries, wildness and that habit of using eight pitches when five will do have kept Maine from realizing his potential. The Mets can't wait for him any longer.

    The reason Maine's so important for the Mets is that their rotation is so desperate for certainty behind Santana. The most you can hope for from Perez is that he throws well occasionally. They certainly need Pelfrey to pitch well, but his baffling mental miscues and lack of secondary pitches make it hard to count on him every single time through the rotation. Maine, on the other hand, has shown the kind of stuff that could make him a reliable running mate for the guy fronting the staff. 

    A stable Maine will leave the bullpen to work more often in other starts, he'll take the pressure of being the "number two" off of Pelfrey and he'll make Perez's trips to the dark side a little bit easier to swallow. More than that, he'll give the Mets a shot at competing because it will take a best case scenario from at least one of the non-Santana starters for the Mets to keep their heads above water this season.

    On TV, situations like this always wind up with another win for the good guys. In baseball, not so much, but there's an "A-Team" movie coming out this summer which might mean there's something karmically aligning for Maine and the Mets.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.