Where has he been this entire post season? Two appearances against the Dodgers, one against the Cardinals and then a Houdini act? It's not far-fetched at all to think that the reason why we haven't seen Aaron Heilman much is because he is going through the preparations of converting back into the starting rotation. The Mets couldn't make a smarter move if this is done. Think about it.
Should the Mets make it to the World Series, what will their rotation consist of? Glavine and Perez seem to be givens but after poor performances against the second best in their division, John Maine and Steve Trachsel hardly seem to be capable of handling the best that the AL has to offer. Both walked far to many players and gave up far too many runs in their respective post-season starts, while barely staying in the game for 4 innings or less.
So what are the Mets to do in this scenario which will present itself? Well let's look at what they've done.
In the post season, we have seen Darren Oliver out in long relief, who should remain there as he doesn't have enough pitches to get by the Detroit Tigers line up 3 times. Let him surprise the hitters out of the pen.
We've seen Pedro Feliciano show off his incredible slider and keep the best of hitters off balance, and easily become the best lefty aside from Wagner. Yes, even after that 9th inning disaster, Wagner is still the best lefty reliever.
Chad Bradford and Roberto Hernandez will be used for 6th and 7th inning spots but not likely anything other than that.
We've seen Guillermo Mota show that he can handle the 8th spot and it's been reported that El Duque might be available to pitch in the World Series. There is no way he starts so and he could also serve as a long man. Aaron Heilman can help the Mets best, by being inserted into the starting rotation. There is no doubt about it.
The Mets need a durable starter. One who could last for 6, 7, 8 innings or the entire game if need be. They've got to do this to spare the bullpen in a series which will surely demand relief presence with either Maine or Trachsel in the rotation. Heilman would easily become your number 2 starter and can truly help this team win the World Series.
Some will try to say that he hasn't thrown enough, and that it takes a lot of time to convert a reliever into a starter, but that is not true. It takes some time and it takes a pitcher who knows what he has got and how to use it.
Heilman has been throwing a lot harder due to being in the pen. Obviously when you throw harder, you exert yourself more. He's got a filthy change-up, Sickening 2-seamer, a live 4 seamer as well as a sneaky slider. With all of them, he has very good control but has also been putting far more effort in his fastballs due to only pitching for an inning or two. When you are starting, you don't throw as hard. We've seen this from Heilman as well. When he was pitching longer innings, his 4 seamer topped out at 91-93. Lately he has been hitting 91-95. His 2 seamer topped out at 93-95 and pitching less innings it's been 95-97. Heilman has the benefit of being one of the best pitchers to come from a pressure house known as Notre Dame. He took on the challenge of starting and went undefeated in his senior year. 15-0 in 15 starts. There is no question that Aaron Heilman knows what he has to do to be an effective starter.
Since joining the Mets he had been labeled as an untouchable player. Despite what reports were about him possibly being involved in a deal for Oswalt, Lou Piniella, Julio Lugo, Danys Baez or any other name out there, the Mets kept him for a reason.
Starting pitching is most important here as the Mets have already proven that they can win post-season games with out him in the pen. He has been the good soldier and has done everything that the organization has asked of him. Now it's time for both sides to come to the common understanding that he would benefit the organization most by joining the starting rotation. If they want to get to the World Series and win it all, Aaron Heilman must start if they are to bring home the 2006 World Series Championship Trophy.