Heilman a Starter?
Please, don’t tease me.
Adam Rubin wrote in his pregame blog yesterday:
Manuel plans to stay away from Aaron Heilman for a second straight game today, after Heilman tossed three innings Saturday. Told he could now use Heilman as a starter, Manuel said he told Heilman the very same thing.
Then, in Rubin’s postgame he wrote:
Jerry Manuel said Aaron Heilman would have pitched the eighth, rather than Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis, who combined to allow five runs. But Heilman was unavailable after tossing three innings Saturday. (By the way, we noted before the game that Manuel did tell Heilman he’s now stretched out to be a starter. But there’s zero chance of that actually happening.)
Here at MetsToday we’ve been waiting three years for Heilman to get another shot at starting. In fact, part of the impetus of this blog was to voice support for Aaron in a starting role. So if this is just hot air from Rubin, I’ll find a way to get credentialed to a game and put salt in Rubin’s coffee in the press box. That’s not a threat, but a PROMISE!
Seriously though, if John Maine’s shoulder turns out to be an issue (it will), now is as good a time as any to give Heilman a shot at starting. Of course, the Mets would need to find a late-inning reliever to fill Aaron’s role in the bullpen. Hasn’t Matt Wise faked an injury long enough?
The odds are long, particularly since Jon Niese was promoted to AAA New Orleans. That is a sure sign that 1) Niese won’t be traded; and 2) the Mets plan to promote him to the bigs if necessary.
There is a possibility that Niese, who has been pitching well in AA, could suffer a temporary setback by facing better hitters at the AAA level. If the Mets were serious about trading him, they wouldn’t have moved him to a higher level, where his weaknesses might be exposed. Or, maybe they’re banking on Niese surprising AAA hitters who haven’t seen him before and hope to get a lights-out start before the July 31 deadline to raise his value (his first AAA start will be today). Hard to tell, but my guess is that if Maine’s MRI shows anything of concern, Niese really will be untouchable.
Who knows though … maybe the Mets will pull off a deal for an outfielder and a reliever, and are serious about moving Heilman to the rotation — a role that better suits his personality, in my humble opinion.