The good news for the Mets is that Johan Santana starts Friday night against the Nationals. The bad news is that the team has other starting pitchers. Livan Hernandez's extended batting practice session against the Cardinals in Thursday's 12-8 loss brought the ERA of the non-Santana starters to 7.79, a number that isn't going to keep this team in the race for very long.
The problem is obvious, but the solution isn't. It's April 23rd, and no other team is going to be trading away a top-flight starter this early in the season. You could sign Pedro Martinez, something that's likely to get some play on radio and tabloids, but that's a play with a low likelihood of success.
That leaves calling up Jonathon Niese from AAA, or staying the course. For right now maintaining the status quo is the right move for the Mets. Turning the rotation upside down now leaves you with nowhere to go if it doesn't work, while Niese can't possibly have done enough in the last three weeks to convince you that he's a better pitcher than Hernandez. His ERA might be high, but Hernandez wasn't a good pitcher in April so it was inane to expect he would become one.
Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez, on the other hand, came with better expectations that they haven't fulfilled. The Mets don't have a better option right now than allowing them to reach those expectations, scary as that sounds based on the performance thus far.
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.