Lesson from Doubleheader: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

The lesson that should have been learned from the Mets doubleheader sweep of the Marlins on Monday is that pitching — specifically starting pitching — wins games. Of course Sandy Alderson knows this, and hopefully he puts an ace at the top of his off-season shopping list.

R.A. Dickey pitched seven shutout innings in game one and Dillon Gee (below, in the nifty new blue uniform) followed that with six innings of one-run ball in game two. The Mets offense was nothing special, scoring just two runs in game one and five runs (most of them late) in the nighcap. But because the starting pitching was so sensational, the Mets were able to win both games.

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Looking ahead to next season, the Mets must fortify their rotation, and not with the inexpensive likes of a Chris Young or Chris Capuano again. They need an ace.

I know what you are saying — Johan Santana is coming back, there’s the ace. True, but we don’t know what kind of Johan Santana the Mets will be getting. Let’s assume he is the Santana of old — they still need another top-of-the-rotation type guy.

Look at the Phillies, Braves, Brewers and Giants. They all have multiple aces. Three of those teams are virtually assured of the playoffs, and the Giants are still fighting for the NL West.

The locks for the Mets rotation in 2012 are Santana, Dickey, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee. Adding a mediocre starter to that group will not be enough. Santana (still assuming he is the Santana of old) and Dickey are sure things. Niese and Gee are both very good but still young, so there will be growing pains. They are not sure things every five days. The Mets don’t need three question marks (four if you want to include Santana’s and his shoulder). They need another sure thing.

(Notice Mike Pelfrey is nowhere to be found. He is the embodiment of a question mark. He’s too old to live with his growing pains anymore.).

So the Mets need another ace to compete with the Phillies and Braves. We’ll deal with who might be available at a later date. But one thing is fore sure, the Mets now have trade chips to acquire such a starter. The same way the Giants were able to trade Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran because they have so many young arms, the Mets now find themselves in such a position.

They have blue-chippers Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Michael Fulmer. Perhaps one of them could be the centerpiece for a deal for a top-flight major league pitcher. I’m not saying empty the farm system just as it is being rebuilt, but a smart trade now could have immediate benefits, and there are still enough young pitching in the system for the future.

If such a deal is possible Alderson is smart enough to to pull it off.

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