WASHINGTON -- Given his druthers, Mets manager Jerry Manuel would prefer a starting pitcher.
Though Manuel hinted in the aftermath of Thursday's loss that he would like the Mets to acquire a reliable setup man, he would rather have a top-flight starting pitcher. Who wouldn't?
"If it's a top, top starter, I'd have to go with a starter," Manuel said. "I'll worry about those tie games on the road later."
The Mets figure to be active players for the two top starting pitchers available, Cliff Lee of the Mariners and Roy Oswalt of the Astros. With the non-waiver Trade Deadline now less than a month away, however, a shutdown reliever would be a fine consolation prize.
For Manuel, who has struggled to find consistent late-game combinations, the acquisition of just such a reliever would be critical.
"What we have, more than anything, is an unproven group for the most part," Manuel said of his current eighth-inning options. "That's what makes it difficult to nail it down."