Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Johan Santana’ Category

The Rubber Game

Posted by JD on May 2, 2010

After trading blowout wins (9-1 Mets on Friday, 10-0 Phillies yesterday), the Mets and Phillies face off on national television to determine the winner of their first series this season. The Mets have a half-game lead over the Phillies in the standings and Johan Santana on the mound. The Phillies will counter with the “wily-veteran,” Jamie Moyer.

It’s been an interesting series. The Mets came in hot and kept it rolling on Friday night. Mike Pelfrey started on Saturday but couldn’t withstand a couple of near-outs (Jose Reyes and Alex Cora dropped catchable balls in the fourth inning) and departed early after giving up six runs. The Mets never recovered against the Phillies’ ace, Roy Halladay, setting up today’s rubber match.

Jerry Manuel has decided to make things even more interesting, subbing Gary Matthews, Jr. in for Angel Pagan in center field (and the lead-off spot) and Fernando Tatis for Ike Davis. There may be a bit of a method to this madness, as Tatis is 8-22 (.364) vs. Moyer and Matthews Jr. is 7-23 (.304)*.

*Granted, they haven’t faced off in 2006. So, we have that going for us. I guess.

Ike Davis wasn’t going to start every game and he’s had an issue with left-handed pitchers, so it’s not crazy to sit him against Moyer. I guess. Tatis needs some at-bats, and his past success gives Jerry some cover here. Same for GMJ, I suppose. Call me crazy, but I’d love to see the Mets field their best lineup against their division rivals. Yes, it’s still early. I understand that it’s a long series, and the Mets will have plenty of cracks at the Phillies. But it would be nice if they put their best foot forward tonight, no?

Alas, the lineup is already set: these are the players that we have to root for tonight. Let’s hope the sum is greater than the parts, and Let’s Go Mets!

Sidebar: If you’re like me and you have no idea where the term “rubber game” came from, Wikipedia has your answer: “The use of the word “rubber” to describe a tiebreaker is believed to have originated in the English game of bowls.” So there you go.

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The Rotation After Two Turns

Posted by JD on April 17, 2010

Pelfrey on the mound last Friday

Raise your hand if you thought Oliver Perez would have a better start than Johan Santana.

The Untouchable: Yes, it was his second-worst start as a Met (if you’re anything like me, you’ve obliterated this disaster from your memory), but this Johan Santana we’re talking about. I’m not about to let one bad start knock the rose-colored glasses off my face. He’s still rounding into shape coming off of surgery, so I’ll give him a pass. But it would be nice to see him go more than six innings today, especially coming off of last night’s loss.

Trending Up: Mike Pelfrey had a great start in Colorado, building off his debut against the Nationals (pictured above). No penalty laps around the parking lot this trip: Pelfrey became the first Met starter to pitch into the seventh inning on Thursday. While he did balk, he also struck out six without issuing a single walk. It’s early and I don’t want to get carried away, but there’s a lot to like about Pelfrey’s start so far.

Positive Vibes: Speaking of not getting carried away: Oliver Perez, everyone! He threw 6 and 1/3 shutout innings against the Cardinals before getting lifted (he got tagged with a run thanks to the combined efforts of Fernando Nieve and Raul Valdes). It’s strange to say, but I think he got pulled early. Still, there’s plenty to build on here.

The same could be be said for Jon Niese. He got touched up a bit in his last start, but it was his first appearance in Colorado’s thin air. I’m willing to give him a mulligan, and I’d bet that he rebounds a bit on Monday against the Cubs.

Negative Energy: John Maine absolutely imploded on Tuesday. His line? 8 runs allowed (7 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks over just three innings (75 pitches, just 47 for strikes). He struck out four, but balanced that by giving up a home run to CF Seth Smith right after allowing an RBI double to starting pitcher Greg Smith.

It’s not looking good for Maine. He’s guaranteed to start against the Cardinals tomorrow night, but all bets are off after that. A poor performance could cost him his spot in the rotation, but who would that spot go to? Internal options include Pat Misch, Tobi Stoner, and Dillon Gee. Misch has major league experience but choosing him would leave Mike Pelfrey as the only righty in the rotation. Gee and Stoner have talent and upside but are completely unproven: would they really be an upgrade over Maine, especially in a rotation that already has so many question marks? External answers include free agents Pedro Martinez or Jarrod Washburn, but neither is ready to start right now, which is what the Mets need the most.

My vote? Call-up Dillon Gee to take Maine’s place in the rotation and Bobby Parnell to take Jenrry Mejia’s spot in the bullpen, add Jenrry Mejia to Binghamton’s rotation, and let Maine take Gee’s spot in Buffalo. The Parnell/Mejia move might seem gratuitous, but Mejia needs to get back to starting as soon as possible. If they don’t do it now, they better do it when Sean Green is ready to play again. But I digress…

What’s Next: Santana (today) and Maine (tomorrow) vs. the Cardinals, and Niese, Pelfrey, and Perez vs. the Cubs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Citi Field.

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Rotation After One Turn

Posted by JD on April 11, 2010

Opening Day

Johan Santana on the mound

The Mets are 2-3 and we’ve had the opportunity to see each member of the rotation pitch once. It’s far too early to make definitive judgments as to who has “earned” their spots and who hasn’t, but it’s not too early to start analyzing the pitchers’ performances. Keeping in mind that one appearance does not a fair sample size make, let’s take a cursory look at how they acquitted themselves:

The Untouchable: Johan Santana. I almost feel silly posting his line here, but fair is fair. In his first start, Johan threw 103 pitches (69 for strikes – 67%) over six innings, striking out five while allowing four hits and two walks. By no means dominating, Santana nonetheless turned in a solid quality start. His spot as the number one starter is unquestioned.

Positive Vibes: Speaking of quality starts, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey each had one (with differing end results). Niese allowed three runs (on eight hits and two walks) over six innings in a game the Mets would go to lose 3-1, while Pelfrey allowed two runs (on four hits and four walks) over six innings in a game the Mets would go on to win 8-2. Neither start was worthy of big publicity, but both deserve credit for giving the Mets’ hitters a chance to win the game. That’s more than the next two guys can say.

Negative Energy: Oliver Perez was Oliver Perez and John Maine was John Maine. I like to look at the positives, so there’s this: Ollie struck out six in five and 2/3 innings and Maine threw 58% of his pitches for strikes. Really. That’s about it. They have a lot of work to do before they can move up into the next category, but the fact that the Mets lack clear-cut replacements means that they’ll have some time to improve.

What’s Next: Keep in mind that anything can happen, but this is how I see the second turn through the rotation: Santana vs. the Nats (today), Maine, Niese, and Pelfrey vs. the Rockies in Colorado (Tuesday thru Thursday), and Perez vs. the Cardinals in St. Louis on Friday. In other words, this week is going to be a great litmus test for the 2-5 starters. Bring it on, and Let’s Go Mets!

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Silver Linings

Posted by JD on April 8, 2010

Here’s one: 8 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strike outs (one of which was Hanley Ramirez), and 63 strikes (of 92 pitches, 68%) in 6.0 innings pitched. That’s a quality start, folks. Jon Niese may have struggled, but all in all it’s not a bad first start. It’s a building block.

As @MetsGuide tweeted: “The season isn’t over…” We’ve got a long row to hoe. If Niese can consistently turn in similar starts, the Mets are bound to capitalize. Sure, the end result tonight wasn’t pretty. But we can build on this.

Now, if only the other three starters not named Santana could duplicate it…

Posted in Johan Santana | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

In Other News

Posted by JD on April 5, 2010

Despite my fascination with the (largely) trivial aspects of Citi Field, the Mets actually played a game today. I think you know where to go if you need a comprehensive recap, but what follows are my thoughts on the Opening Day victory:

1. It was a victory! Personally, I needed a win in the worst way. I still expect this season to be a struggle, but starting off on the Wright foot helped me immeasurably. Speaking of which:

2. David Wright hit a home run in his first at bat at Citi Field for the second consecutive season. And it was an opposite field shot to boot! I couldn’t see it from my seats, but Matt Cerrone mentioned that he smiled from “ear to ear, as he exhaled and ran around the bases.” If the Game Winning RBI still existed, Wright would’ve notched one today as the Marlins could only muster one run in response. Regardless, it had to feel like a monkey was lifted from his shoulders (if only for a little bit). What a great start to the season.

3. Jeff Francoeur walked*. I couldn’t resist the urge to send a sarcastic tweet because of his well-documented aversion to walking. I know better than to think he’ll walk more this season, but for one shining moment, anything was possible. The magic of Opening Day…

*I also don’t want this to get lost: Frenchy had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to plate the first insurance run. I rag on him from time to time, but he had a nice game today.

4. Fernando Nieve threw two solid innings of relief. The bullpen is still in a state of flux, but it was nice to see Nieve take another step forward.

5. Johan Santana was Johan Santana. He wasn’t totally lights out, but he was close enough, limiting the Marlins to one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out five in six innings pitched. He’s amazing, and I can’t wait to watch him pitch again on Sunday.

6. Mike Jacobs struggled today. I tweeted a picture of the Topps lineups cards which didn’t include a picture of our clean-up hitter. It was an omen. Jacobs looked awful in his first two at-bats and was only slightly improved in his final two. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression: I’m not saying Jacobs shouldn’t be the cleanup hitter just because there was no picture of him in the Topps lineup. No, I’m saying he shouldn’t be the clean-up hitter because he stinks. I know: it’s only one game. Miniscule sample size, and I don’t mean to dwell on the negatives, but I hope this experiment ends sooner rather than later.

7. Cameron Maybin won’t be saving this box score in his scrapbook. He had an absolutely atrocious game, striking out in his first three at bats and badly misjudging three different fly balls that directly lead to Mets runs. While he didn’t get credited with an error, he just could not get an accurate read off the bat and took poor routes on several occasions. I noticed it in warm-ups when he was struggling with long-tosses from second base, but it got worse from there. It’s a long season and he’s still young, but I’d be very worried if I were the Marlins.

8. Gary Matthews was competent. He went 2-3 and scored two runs but, more importantly, he adjusted well to the difficult Citi center field. Sure, I’d rather have Angel Pagan out there, but GMJ didn’t embarrass himself out there. Today.

I’m sure there were a few other notes I wanted to share, but I’m in a bit of haze after spending the day at the ballpark: there was a lot to process (and most of it was good). It’s only one of 162 games and there will be lots of things to chronicle as we go forward. For now, I’m going to sleep well knowing that the Mets exceeded expectations in the first game of the year. It was a great day, and there’s a lot to build on. Let’s hope they duplicate it when John Maine takes the mound on Wednesday.

Posted in David Wright, Jeff Francoeur, Johan Santana, Mets, Opening Day | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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