Heading into the start of the 2007 season, the Mets knew they would have enough offense to be a powerhouse in the National League for a second straight year. What they didn't know is if they would have enough starting pitching.
Thanks in large part to John Maine, that question has been answered. Maine earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors on Wednesday after finishing April with a perfect 4-0 record. The 25-year-old leads the Major Leagues with a 1.35 ERA, allowing just five earned runs in 33 1/3 innings.
It was an impressive start to the season, but Maine isn't about to let the early success go to his head, because he knows it's going to be a long season.
"I've still got a lot of stuff to work on," Maine said. "I'm pleased, [but] I've got five more months. I've just got to keep it going. I've got to worry about May now."
Maine becomes the first Mets hurler to win the monthly award since Al Leiter in June 2000. Maine was 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in the 2006 regular season and pitched even better in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 2.64 ERA in three starts.
"After what we saw [from Maine] in the playoffs ... a lot of us aren't that shocked," said Mets closer Billy Wagner. "He's got that ability."
One of the things Maine attributes for his hot start has been his ability to pitch late into games. Maine is averaging 6 2/3 innings per start so far this season.
"I'm learning to [stay in games] longer," Maine said. "I think I threw too many fastballs last year. Too many were getting fouled off and running up my pitch count. Now I'm in better shape and throwing better pitches. I think I get six more batters per game. If I'm still throwing well, that's two more innings. That really helps."
On Wednesday, Maine and Jose Reyes became the first Mets teammates to win the Player and Pitcher of the Month awards since Dwight Gooden and Gary Carter in September 1985.
Other pitchers who received votes were Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who went 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA, and San Diego's Jake Peavy, who went 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA and 46 strikeouts.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.