Welcome to the Big Leagues, Mike Bacsik

During the first half of the regular season, the Mets floundered around the .500 mark. The offense, which had been revamped in an attempt to score many more runs than the NL low 642 runs that they put across the plate last season, had been terrible, as All-Stars such as Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz struggled mightily, all hitting way lower than their career averages.

The pitching, which had been the question mark coming into the season, had carried the team. Aces Al Leiter and Pedro Astacio, along with Jeff D'Amico and Steve Trachsel had been doing a fantastic job keeping the games tight, and in some cases, squeaking out wins.

However, the roles have been reversed, as the bats have come alive, led by resurgent stars Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn. Despite this offense jump, the pitching has been shaky at best, with Estes and D'Amico blowing up and Steve Trachsel going on the DL. Enter Mike Bacsik.

The 24-year-old lefty, acquired from Cleveland in the deal that sent Roberto Alomar to the Mets, started the year at AAA Norfolk, struggling in the bullpen until being moved to the rotation. Overall, he was 5-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 22 games, 12 of them starts.

When Steve Trachsel was placed on the DL, Tyler Walker originally got the nod to replace him on the pitching staff. However, after he pitched in a relief appearance, a starter was needed, and Bacsik got the call. One July 5th, in his first career start and fourth career appearance in the Majors, Bacsik went 5 innings pitched and let up 2 earned runs while walking three and striking out three. He got his first major league win in the end.

In his second start of the year, on July 15th, he pitched a better game, hurling a complete game, earning a win. He let up 3 earned runs, all off solo home runs. The fact that he was able keep his composure after giving up those three homeruns was a major sign of his maturity, despite being of a young age. Bacsik didn't unravel, as Jeff D'Amico and Shawn Estes did in their past starts, where each went less than 6 innings while giving up more than 5 runs.

As the trading deadline quickly approaches, the Mets must decide which direction to take in regards to their building for this year or the future. They must decide whether or not they can still win this season, or if they should look towards 2003 and beyond. There have been rumors swirling around about the Mets trading one or more of their starting pitchers, including Estes, D'Amico and ace Al Leiter. Combine that uncertainty with the fact that 4 of their 5 starting pitchers are free agents at the end of the year, and you find a pitching staff that is up in the air.

While the Mets have an almost MLB ready prospect pitcher in Aaron Heilman and another that is on the way named Pat Strange, there will be some holes to fill, at least during the off-season. If the Mets decide to look towards the future, they must put Bacsik in the rotation. He is a strike-throwing young lefty, gold in the baseball world. By giving him vital experience this season, it will help him become a more polished pitcher more quickly, and will give the Mets another formidable arm for years to come.



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