Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Grant Roberts seemed to be leading the pack in the race for the fifth starting spot in the Mets rotation until he got smoked last night by the Expos. Roberts started out strong, sitting down 12 of the first 14 batters he faced, the only base runners being the product of two free passes. The Mets are allowing their pitchers to open it up a bit now that its getting closer to go time and sent Roberts out in the sixth inning for the first time this spring. It proved one inning too much as it seemed clear that Roberts was out of gas, giving up four hits and four runs before being pulled. When the dust settled, Roberts went 5 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hit, 5 earned runs, walked 3, and failed to strike out a single batter. Prior to this game Roberts was lights out, posting an ERA of 1.93 in 14 innings with 16 strike outs. It seems two factors contributed to Roberts disastrous sixth inning. First, Roberts got the bad idea that he was going to use this start to "bump it up." Meaning, to up the cheddar factor on his fastball, which as been clocked at 88 mph this spring. Second, Roberts picked a bad outing to try to up his fastball as the Mets were giving him a little more room off his leash. As it turned out, the Mets just gave Roberts more rope to hang himself with. Roberts' overexertion, combined with his longest outing of the spring, might have contributed to his sixth inning implosion. Nevertheless, no one should read too much into this one bad inning as Roberts is a strong candidate, perhaps the strongest, to land the 5th starter job.