Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Mets have a secret weapon

R.A. Dickey's ultimate Mets fate will likely be no more than an answer to a trivia question, but for now, he is nothing less than a savior.

Missing a tendon in his pitching arm but possessing a knuckleball that at one point this season retired 27 straight AAA hitters in one game, Dickey has stepped up and saved the Mets' starting rotation from imploding under the weight of injury and ineffectiveness. He has helped the Mets turn their season around just when things were looking bleak, and he may have even helped save Jerry Manuel's job.

For now.

Dickey shut out the Phillies in Tuesday's series opener, won by the Mets by a convincing 8-0 margin. While elder statesman Jamie Moyer was ineffective, Dickey dodged bullets through six innings, allowing seven hits and walking three while striking out seven. The Phillies got runners on base, but none managed an extra-base hit against Dickey, which likely made Citi Field look even more cavernous to the Phils, compared to their adorable shoe box of a ballpark.

Dickey came to the knuckleball late in his career, turning to it almost in desperation. The Mets similarly turned to Dickey in desperation, having demoted Oliver Perez before seeing Jon Niese and then John Maine lost to the disabled list.

All Dickey has done is earn a spot in a starting rotation that has revived itself despite losing three of its pieces.

And let's not forget the work of Raul Valdes, a 32-year-old Cuban finally getting a chance and making the most of it. His three innings of scoreless relief not only earned him a save but gave the bullpen even more rest after an off-day Monday, which is invaluable for the Mets' busy relief corps.

The Mets' less-secret weapon is Jose Reyes, who busted out Tuesday with three hits, three runs, two steals and an RBI. For as long as he has been here, it has been said that as Reyes goes, so go the Mets. Any wonder that the Mets struggled while Reyes himself struggled for seven weeks to get back into playing shape after missing almost all of spring training?

It is Reyes' resurgence that will trigger a Mets turnaround, if one is coming. The lineup has enough depth and talent to score runs, especially if Reyes is leading the way.

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