Originally posted on MetsZilla  |  Last updated 5/22/12

The Mets were not expected to be much of a factor in the NL East this season. Too many question marks. How were they going to replace Jose Reyes? How was Johan Santana going to perform after missing all of last year? Were they really going to rely on Frank Francisco to close games?

But New York Mets has surprised many MLB odds makers by keeping its head above .500 almost all season, thanks in large part to the efforts of the starting rotation.

A Pretty Good Top 3

For a guy coming off a season lost to injury the Mets couldn’t ask much more of Santana so far this year. His ERA sits at 3.24, he’s allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and he owns a 53/16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Unfortunately for him, he’s only got one win to his credit.

New York also can’t ask for much more out of their No. 2 man in the rotation, knuckleballer RA Dickey. The right-hander flopped around for the first eight years of his ML career, but since coming to the Mets and joining their rotation he’s 24-23. This year he also has given up fewer hits than IP, and owns a 40/16 K/BB ratio.

Three-man Jonathon Niese owns an ERA at 4.85, but that’s a little deceptive, because it jumped from 3.40 after his last start, an eight-run shelling at the hands of the Blue Jays.

The Rest of the Story

Things get a little trickier for the Mets after the top three spots in the rotation. Dillon Gee started well this season but has been less than great his last three outings. Mike Pelfrey was supposed to be the two-man, but he went down-and-out for the season two weeks in with an elbow injury. And 41-year-old Miguel Batista, who was making some starts at the end of the rotation (with middling results), is now on the DL himself after pulling a groin.

Youngsters Jeremy Hefner and Chris Schwinden are candidates to now make starts at the five spot.

The Mets may have one trick up their sleeve; right-hander Chris Young, the injury-prone former San Diego Padre, is making some minor-league rehab starts and could begin making some starts for New York within the next couple weeks.

On the Back End

Down in the Mets bullpen Francisco has had his problems, with three losses, two blown saves and a 7.56 ERA. But it looks like New York will stick with him, at least for the time being.

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