Friday, October 06, 2006

Koufax to Cueller to ...Kuo? Oh, My!

Posted by Picasa Mets manager Willie Randolph was asked yesterday if he had yet announced his Games 3 and 4 starters for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"No, not yet. Not yet."

Once upon a time such questions didn't even need to be asked. Then, again, once upon a time, teams in the postseason probably had starting rotations that went deeper than the obvious candidates for, well, Game 1.

That is no longer the case. Not when manager after manager got into the postseason only to find themselves with starting staffs still works in progress.

At least that's what you have to assume the playoff rotations were, looking at some of the pitchers toe-ing the mound during this, the most important games to date in their team's 2006 campaigns.

Blame it on injuries, youth movements or a general lack of depth throughout major-league pitching, but not one of the eight rotations toiling in the postseason will be confused with the Baltimore Orioles 1971 rotation members (pictured above) who entered the postseason with 20 or more victories each.

Jim Palmer-Dave McNally-Mike Cuellar-Pat Dobson?

Sandy Koufax-Don Drysdale-Claude Osteen-Don Sutton?

Greg Maddux-Tom Glavine-John Smoltz-Steve Avery?

Try these guys on for size: Tuesday, Boof Bonser, a rookie who spent part of the season in the minors and was 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA in the bigs this season, was sent to the mound by a Minnesota Twins team needing a victory to even their ALDS series against the Oakland A's.

Later that day, another rookie John Maine (6-5, 3.60), was the Mets' Game 1 starter, against L.A.

Today, St. Louis' starter in Game 2 of its NLDS clash with San Diego was Jeff Weaver - 3-10 (6.29) with the Angels, 5-4 (5.19) with the Cards (Weaver and four relievers, including three rookies, shut out the punchless Padres, 2-0).

And finally, last night the Dodgers, down 0-1 in the best of five series against New York, sent Hong-Chih Kuo - 1-5, 4.22 - to the mound. Kuo has one big-league victory to his name, it coming on Sept. 8 at Shea against the Mets in his first major-league start.

Kuo's mound opponent? Glavine, who's started almost as many postseason games (33) as Kuo has major-league appearances (38, counting the Game 2 start).

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