Game 18: Loss

Padres 7 Mets 4

Who says there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” anymore ? The Mets have a guarantee every fifth day: a loss by Victor Zambrano. You can put your money on it.

VZ was vintage Zambrano on Sunday: lots of balls, lots of walks, a few extra base hits given up on two-strike counts. One of those was, um, a grand salami by Brian Giles on a 3-2 pitch, and another was a homerun to rookie Josh Barfield on an 0-2 pitch. In the last nine innings he has pitched, Zambrano has given up five home runs, all on two-strike counts. My theory is that Zambrano is so unaccustomed to being ahead on the count, he doesn’t really know what to do. He has much more experience inducing outs on 3-1, 2-0, and 2-1 counts. Ugh!

If I hear one more positive comment from Mr. Willie concerning VZ’s performance, I’ll puke. Thankfully, Randolph was more or less speechless when asked about this most recent debacle, though he gave no indication that Zambrano was on thin ice, stating “I never lose confidence in my guys … my pitchers are not on trial.” Huh? Are you kidding me? If you never lose confidence in guys, then why won’t you bring in Jorge Julio with less than a seven run lead? If you are not evaluating and measuring the performance of you starting pitchers, then why bother showing up to the games? C’mon Willie!

The issue with Zambrano is that he is always working from behind. It seems that every batter starts out with a 2-0 count, and every inning begins with men on first and second with none out. True, Zambrano has shown the ability to get out of these jams on occasion, but when you are consistently in these situations, every single inning, eventually something’s going to give. I compare Zambrano to the levy that couldn’t protect N’Awlins: barely strong enough to give the perception that it could defend the city, but in reality not up to snuff.

The Mets did show some gumption, figthing back and pulling within one run with a four-run sixth, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it. And you can’t blame the bullpen, as it’s been nearly perfect thus far. You can’t expect those guys to give up zero runs for the entire season.

All in all, this game made one thing perfectly clear: Victor Zambrano is not the answer as the #3, #4, nor #5 starter. It’s time to start rethinking the Aaron Heilman situation, and/or taking a look at John Maine.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.