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NL East Update: The one where Jason Heyward hits a lot of ground balls

MetsBlogs Matt Cerrone is proud of how Mike Pelfrey has grown into the dominant pitcher he is now, and how could you not be?

Pelfrey made his MLB debut way back in 2006, and made some spot starts in 2007, but has become a mainstay in the Mets rotation starting in 2008. Up until this year, Pelfrey struggled; there was no doubt about it. Right when he seemed to be turning a corner, another issue came up, whether it be not being able to avoid the big inning, or his balking fiasco he endured last year, but in 2010 he has finally found himself and is pitching with confidence. I can confidently say that they Mets have two aces at the front end of their rotation with Pelfrey and Johan Santana. Perhaps it has been Johan’s tutelage that has turned the page for him, or maybe the other hall of famers he has been surrounded by throughout his career. Names like Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and Billy Wagner have all strolled through the Mets clubhouse at some point during Pelfrey’s career, so he likely has picked up some knowledge from all of them. Mets fans haven’t seen a pitching prospect grow before their eyes like this since Doc Gooden, they were due to have one come sooner or later.

The Marlins bullpen has been terrible this year. Today, they made some moves to address their biggest issue.

The NL East is shaping up to be the most intriguing pennant race of the year, and I can guarantee that the team that comes out on top will be in large part because of the performance of their bullpen. Florida is lucky to be at .500, let alone 3 games out of first place, but they can thank the injured Jimmy Rollins and disappointing Phillies for that. Taylor Tankersley had pitched in the past for the Marlins with some ups and downs but was a decent arm out of the bullpen, but unfortunately, he missed all of 2009 with elbow problems. It’s nice to see him make a return to the majors. “Tank” is only 27 and is likely going to be thrown right into the mix to salvage the bullpens rough start. With lefty Renyel Pinto being placed on the DL with hip problems, Tank…being a southpaw himself, will eat up some of his innings.

Not only do the Phillies have bullpen issues, but now their all-star lineup cant even scrap one run across the board.

If you were to tell me that the Phillies would come into Citi Field and get shut out not once, not twice, but threes times, I would have wanted that fifteen seconds of my life back. What makes matters worse is that they didn’t even have to face Johan in any of those games, instead they got R.A. Dickey, who was making his second appearance for the Mets, Hisanori Takahasi, the 35 year-old rookie, and Pelfrey. Is this the same Phillie lineup that is dominating the all-star voting? This seems very similar to the scenario that the Mets faced last year and early this year with the absence of Jose Reyes. Without a spark at the top of the lineup it impacts everyone else. Rollins supplied the energy of the dominant Phillie teams of recent years and they are suffering the consequences without him. Now that Reyes is coming back to form, the Mets have been winning…maybe leadoff men have more importance than we thought?

Jason Heyward sure can smack the cover off the ball, and infielders are taking notice as a remarkably high number of his hits have come off grounders.

For a 20 year-old, Heyward is wise beyond his years. With all the pressure he faced coming up through the Braves system, his transition to the majors has been nearly flawless. Heyward does hit the ball on the ground a lot, but that’s the type of hitter he is. You wont see him hit a lot of balls into the air, which could be dangerous for a young hitter as it could lead to upper cuts in your swing. His approach is to hit nothing higher than line drives which why he hits the ball HARD, even his home runs get out of the stadium in a hurry. It is going to be interesting to see if this is the type of hitter he will be for his entire career, or if he eventually tries to evolve into more of a power threat than he already is. Heyward has a great sense for the game and was born to be a ballplayer, you can’t teach the baseball moxey he has.

For those waiting for the date to reserve tickets for Stephen Strasburgs debut…the guessing game continues.

I sure hope the Nationals are having fun watching us fans suffer by not informing us of what date Strasburg will make his debut. They are going to drag this out as long as possible, which is brilliant on their part because it can only benefit the organization by having people reserve tickets for the other games in the series. First it was June 4th against Cincinnati, then it was rumored to be the 8th against Pittsburgh, and now that dates not for certain. As much as we scold the Nationals for the “guessing games”, they really haven’t said anything at all regarding the date; it has been the several media outlets that are dragging this on. I have a gut feeling it is going to be June 10th, the final game of the Pittsburgh series (here I go causing another string of rumors) because you have to give the fans something to get excited about when the Pirates come to town.

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