In what has been a season of thorough frustration wrought with inconsistency, streakiness, and turmoil, the most infuriating trait of the 2008 Mets has been the number of starts by Johan Santana that have gone wasted.
Don’t listen to the blowhards in the sports media – Santana has had a Santana-like season.
He has a 2.86 ERA, and has led the Mets in innings pitched and strikeouts all season. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 19 of his 23 starts. That should be enough to win – the Mets are averaging 4.86 runs per game this season. The bullpen has blown 5 games in which Santana has left with the lead, and lost three of them. Taking into account both of these factors, Santana could easily have 15 wins.
What else can he do? Those who cry that he should pitch a complete game every five days because of how much he’s being paid are insane. Is there some sort of ratio of dollars to innings pitched I’m not aware of? Is this a new sabermetric statistic?
One wonders if Santana looks at the standings and sees the team he was traded from is in first place by a half game in the AL Central, and the team he was traded to is three games back. Does he ever regret coming to Queens? I would.
Imagine where the Twins would be with Santana right now. It’s not like the Twins got any immediate value out of their trade with the Mets. Carlos Gomez is the only player dealt to Minnesota who has contributed at the major league level this year, but hasn’t been much of a factor. His .287 OBP would have gotten him booed off the field every day at Shea Stadium. Santana, however, would have Minnesota up by five games by now – and he’d be celebrated in the sports media, free of the microscope of New York.
There’s no real magic, secret solution to the Mets’ struggles this year. It’s simple. When Johan Santana leaves the game with a lead, or gives up three or fewer earned runs, WIN THE GAME. If New York can do that, they can run away with the division. If they can’t, it’s going to be an uphill climb.