Enter a difficult scenario developing at Triple-A Norfolk, where both Brian Bannister and Oliver Perez have stated their claims toward big league callups.
Bannister excelled in his fourth rehab appearance since re-joining Norfolk on Sunday, limiting the Charlotte Knights to one run and six hits over six innings while picking up his second Double-A victory.
The 25-year-old right-hander – who opened the season in the Mets' starting rotation, only to be lost to a hamstring injury in April – struck out five and walked one, keeping Charlotte hitters off balance in a 4-1 Norfolk win.
Perez, the 24-year-old left-hander acquired with Roberto Hernandez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the July 31 trade of outfielder Xavier Nady, has been similarly impressive.
Reports have indicated Perez's velocity – which once ranked him in the upper echelon of young pitching talent - to be renewed.
Pitching against the same Charlotte club on Saturday, Perez struck out 11 and allowed just one hit in seven shutout innings, facing just three batters over the minimum and notching his first victory as a member of the Tides.
Perez walked two and threw two wild pitches in the performance, and is 1-2 with a 6.05 ERA in four starts with the Mets organization. In 19.1 innings, he has allowed 13 earned runs, 12 walks and 26 strikeouts.
Speaking Sunday at Shea Stadium, Mets GM Omar Minaya mentioned not only Bannister and Perez, but also right-hander Mike Pelfrey – currently on the Tides' disabled list with a strained back injury, but expected to continue pitching this week – and Double-A right-hander Philip Humber as pitchers who could potentially help the Mets in September.
The Mets would logically need another pitcher during the weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies. John Maine starts Tuesday, followed by Steve Trachsel on Wednesday and recent call-up Dave Williams on Thursday.
State of the Tides: Norfolk enters play Wednesday 30 games under .500 at 50-80 (.385), 25 games behind division-leading Charlotte in the International League South.
Norfolk leaderboard, offense: No Tides player currently ranks among the Mets' minor league top 10 in batting average, home runs, RBI or stolen bases.
Norfolk leaderboard, pitching: Evan MacLane picked up his 12th victory Tuesday with a complete game shutout, giving him the organizational lead … Heath Bell's 12 saves are fourth in the system while Royce Ring's 10 are fifth … Mike Pelfrey's 106 strikeouts are third, while MacLane's 92 punchouts rank fifth.
ON THE RISE
We continue to watch Edgardo Alfonzo with a curious eye, especially with infielder Jose Valentin suffering a hamstring injury at the major league level.
Alfonzo is doing his best to show that there is still life in his bat, hitting .281 with two home runs and seven RBI in 64 at-bats this month. Alfonzo has also made good contact, striking out just six times and working eight walks.
With the Mets showing little development among other infield prospects, it stands to reason that Fonzie's happy days could return to Shea Stadium in the event Valentin must go on the disabled list.
Anderson Hernandez opened the season as the Mets' second baseman, but has become mostly forgotten.
His offensive performance in August - .258 in 89 August at-bats, with 10 runs scored, three doubles, one triple and six RBI – hasn’t been awful, but he's also struck out 15 times and walked just twice.
After hitting so well last season at Double-A Binghamton, continuing into the winter leagues, Hernandez hasn't impressed this season offensively. Overall at Triple-A, he's hitting just .252 in 385 at-bats entering Wednesday.