The 2012 Mets' pitchers have been a tale of two different pitching staffs for each of the two halves of the season.
They played well as overachievers in the first half by winning games in dramatic fashion and relying on both their starting rotation and an offense led by David Wright to keep them in games.
For much of the first few months, the Mets were flirting with wild card possibilities. The icing on the cake was the first no-hitter in franchise history that Johan Santana threw on June 1.
At the All-Star break, everything was looking good for the most part with the Mets.
Once the break ended though, the Mets turned into a completely different team. They only won four more games for the rest of July in what became an unbearable three weeks, and it continued into August. Not surprisingly, the pitching staff could not continue its string of success and it showed.
A 12-16 record for that month did not make anything better, and by the middle of August, the Mets were pretty much out of postseason contention. The whole team fell apart, between most of the starting pitchers, the entire bullpen and the majority of the lineup.
A once promising season turned into a lost season quicker than anyone could have imagined.
Even though the Mets will not be getting to the playoffs this season for the sixth consecutive year, 2012 had some great moments that fans can cherish. On the flip side, there have also been some more unfortunate moments that plenty of fans wish they could remove from their memory.
Statistically, there have been some surprisingly good numbers from certain pitchers in specific categories, while other statistics have not been as good.
In part two of this reflection, here is one statistic from each of the 2012 Mets' pitchers that has defined their individual seasons.
Defining Statistic: 12-1 in the First Half of the Season
What is there left to say about R.A. Dickey's 2012 season? He is arguably the favorite to win the 2012 NL Cy Young Award with the numbers he has put up. He is 18-5 with a 2.68 ERA, 197 strikeouts and a 1.044 WHIP.
Dickey got off to an amazing start by recording 12 wins by the All-Star break. Surprisingly, he of course did not start the All-Star Game itself for the National League, but handled the situation very well. He has not been good to the same degree in the second half, but he has still given the Mets many chances to win, regardless of whether the Mets' offense was able to support him or not.
The 197 strikeouts in 205 innings is amazing for Dickey because he is a knuckleballer. These days, many pitchers get strikeouts thanks to their high velocity, but Dickey's knuckleball is unpredictable each time and it has fooled many hitters this year. Few, if any, would have thought that Dickey would be among the league leaders in strikeouts.
Hopefully, the baseball writers will soon make the right decision and give Dickey the NL Cy Young Award he has deserved all season.
Defining Statistic: No-Hitter on June 1 (First in Mets History)
Johan Santana's season this year was quite a roller coaster experience. After coming off shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season, the expectations were that Santana would not be healthy for much of the season.
Santana ended up silencing his critics with a very solid first half. Despite a 6-5 record that was largely due to the lack of run support Santana has gotten throughout his time as a Met, he had a 3.24 ERA and almost one strikeout per inning.
Furthermore, he even had two complete game shutouts in the first half, with one of them being the unforgettable no-hitter he threw against the Cardinals on June 1.
If Santana's no-hitter became unforgettable, the second half of his season this year turned into something he, the Mets and their fans all wish they could forget.
After suffering an ankle injury that required a stint on the disabled list, Santana returned to make four more starts, and all of them did not go well. He was 0-4 with an alarming 16.33 ERA. In fact, he only lasted 14 innings combined in those starts due to his ineffectiveness.
As a result of his poor second half, the Mets decided to shut down Santana for the rest of the season. He will continue to work hard now as he prepares for the 2013 Spring Training, and ultimately his final season with the Mets next year. The Mets have a 2014 option, but are now very unlikely to use it based on Santana's health, lack of velocity and recent ineffectiveness.
If Santana turns out to pitch very well in the first half of 2013, the Mets could look to eat most of his salary and trade him to a contender. However, a trade that would involve another team taking on even part of his salary would be very unlikely.
Hopefully, Santana and the Mets can make the most of their final season together next year and end his time in New York on a positive note.
Defining Statistic: .228 Batting Average for Right-Handed Hitters against Niese
With the amazing success of R.A. Dickey this year, plus Johan Santana's no-hitter, it's been rather easy for fans to overlook the great season that Jon Niese has had in 2012.
After signing a five-year deal that will keep him with the Mets through 2017, Niese has kept improving himself year by year. Right now, he has a 10-9 record and a 3.47 ERA, which is almost certain to become his career best. With another two wins, he could set a new career-high in that department as well.
For the most part, Niese has pitched well and kept the Mets in the game. Like some of his pitching teammates, the offense has not given him a lot of run support at times, but it doesn't take away from the improvements he has made.
Niese's one problem this year, if anything has been the long ball. He has already given up 21 home runs, with 18 of them to right-handed hitters. Hopefully, he can limit this issue going forward and continue to become one of the better southpaws in the league.
At his rate, Niese could possibly have a 15-win season in 2013 and maybe even be another representative for the Mets when they host the 2013 MLB All-Star Game next July. As long as he stays healthy, this could become a reality.
Defining Statistic: 97 Strikeouts in 109.2 Innings Pitched
For much of the first half of the season, Dillon Gee was the Mets' least consistent starting pitcher. This goes to show how well the Mets had been playing at the time.
As for Gee, he pitched better than his numbers would illustrate. For the most part, he relied on his control to strikeout 97 batters in 109.2 innings pitched.
At times, Gee did give up a few too many home runs and pitch himself into trouble, but had the Mets given him more run support generally speaking, he would have finished with a better record than just 6-7.
Unfortunately, Gee's season came to a sudden stop in early July when a blood clot was found in an artery near his shoulder. Gee is doing better now and has been traveling with the team while rehabilitating his shoulder during the second half.
Gee's 2013 status though is not certain. He will most likely be the fifth starter until Zack Wheeler is ready for a call-up to the major leagues. However, if the Mets decide to bring back Chris Young and/or Mike Pelfrey, it could make for a very interesting Spring Training battle for the fifth spot.
Gee is under team control right now through 2017, so if he does not win a starting spot in the rotation, he will likely get traded. On the other hand, the Mets could also look to trade him beforehand in the offseason.
Dillon Gee is a good pitcher and the Mets seem to like him, but he could soon become the odd man out in what is becoming a younger and more improved rotation.
Defining Statistic: .344 Opponents' Batting Average in Third Plate Appearances
Plagued by yet another shoulder injury in 2011, Chris Young got re-signed by the Mets in the offseason and made a successful return in early June. Since then, he has most importantly managed to stay healthy, but has not been as effective as everyone had hoped he would be.
At times, Young has pitched very well against the opposition, but in many of his starts, those innings of dominance have only lasted the first four or five innings of the game. His arm has often given out by the sixth or seventh innings, which has resulted in losses, home runs and trouble getting outs generally speaking.
Had Young been taken out of some of his starts earlier, he most likely wouldn't be having the 4-7 record and 4.39 ERA he currently has. It's clear that with all the shoulder injuries he has sustained, he can only pitch to a certain extent in each of his starts.
Hopefully, the Mets can find a way to limit his pitch count and manage his innings so that these late inning issues don't keep occurring.
For someone with the shoulder problems he has had, Young will probably have to take each of his contracts one year at a time. As a result, he will be a free agent in the offseason again, but the Mets should look to bring him as a potential long reliever or added rotation depth if anyone else gets hurt.
With Young being unable to pitch over six innings for the most part, it will limit his ability to continue being a starter for the Mets in 2013. The youthful talent the Mets have could lead them to not re-signing him, but if no other team is particularly interested in him, the Mets should have him around as added depth.
Defining Statistic: 2.29 ERA in Three Starts
Going into Spring Training this year, Mike Pelfrey's job as a starting pitcher for the Mets was not exactly certain. The Mets almost released him during Spring Training, but ultimately never did so. As a result, Pelfrey entered the 2012 season as the Mets' fourth starter and was immediately on a mission to redeem himself from a very underachieving 2011 season.
To his credit, Pelfrey pitched well in his first three starts of the year, despite not getting any wins. He did have a 2.29 ERA and gave the Mets a great chance to win in each start. The Mets ended up winning two of his starts and were on track to winning the third, had the bullpen not been as ineffective as it was that night.
Unfortunately, soon after his third start, it was discovered that Pelfrey was going to need Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow. He of course was forced to miss the rest of the season and will not be ready for major league action until at least next April or May.
With another year of arbitration coming around for Pelfrey, the Mets are very likely to non-tender him or, in other words, not give him a contract. If that occurs, he would become a free agent.
However, if no others teams show particular interest in Pelfrey, the Mets could look to bring him back on a minor league deal as added rotation depth. Whether Pelfrey would be open to such a move is unknown, but if the Mets have the opportunity, they would have nothing to lose.
Defining Statistic: .357 Opponents' Batting Average Against Schwinden
Once Pelfrey was out for the rest of the season, Chris Schwinden was the first replacement that was used to fill the rotation. However, none of the three starts he made were good by any means.
Due to his struggles, the Mets placed Schwinden on waivers. The Blue Jays were the first to claim him, but was also claimed by the Indians four days later. Three weeks after that, he was designated for assignment and claimed by the Yankees two days later. Six days later though, the Mets re-claimed him and he finished the season in the minor leagues.
As shown in the tumultuous month of June he had, Schwinden's future both with the Mets and overall is unknown. It will be interesting to see if he is in the Mets' Spring Training camp next season.
Defining Statistic: 1-2, 5.14 ERA as a Starting Pitcher
The aging former Met Miguel Batista spent the majority of the 2012 season with the Mets before getting released and signing with the rival Braves.
As a Met, Batista was the Opening Day long reliever, but, once Mike Pelfrey got hurt, he got an opportunity to make a spot start against the Giants, which did not go well at all. He ended up making five starts and 25 relief appearances. Overall, he did better as a reliever, but at times, he gave up big home runs in critical situations.
In July, the Mets briefly lost Johan Santana to an ankle injury and they decided to give Batista another opportunity to start. This did no go well though and the Mets ended up getting released on July 26. Shortly after, the Mets promoted Matt Harvey, which delighted fans everywhere.
Batista is now a member of the Braves, but has only made five appearances there so far. Where the 41-year-old 18-year veteran will pitch next year is undetermined, but a retirement is just as likely to occur at this point as well.
Defining Statistic: 5.24 ERA as a Starting Pitcher
Rookie swing-man Jeremy Hefner has had a solid year so far, but has not gotten as good of results as he has deserved.
Hefner has made ten starts as a sport starter due to various injuries, but did not particularly impress others with his performances. To his credit, he did hit a home run in first ever major league at-bat and won his first start that night as well.
Hefner has done better overall as a reliever, but the fact that his ERA is still almost at 5.00 is not good at all. He will likely be with the Mets next year in the same role as long reliever that can make occasional spot starts if needed.
The potential is certainly there, but in 2013, Hefner will have to prove that he can be a solid pitcher and a lot better than what he has shown this year.
Defining Statistic: 63 Strikeouts in 52.1 Innings Pitched
One of the Mets' top prospects for much of the season, Matt Harvey made his long awaited major league debut in late July against the Diamondbacks. He won that start in dominating fashion and even contributed two hits at the plate.
In his first nine starts of what should be a great and very promising career, Harvey has already shown the Mets and their fans that he can be the real deal. His 3-5 record might not look good, but that has been largely due to the Mets' lack of offense and inability to score runs.
At first, Harvey struggled to get past the sixth inning, but he has made it past the seventh inning now multiple times. His velocity has been consistently between 95-98 MPH and his secondary pitches have been pretty good as well. Most of all, he has been striking out batters at a very high rate and has reached double digit strikeouts in two of his starts.
Clearly, the potential for Harvey is already there and the Mets can certainly look forward to a great first full season from him in 2013. He will likely begin 2013 as the third starter behind R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese.
Defining Statistic: 7.55 ERA
By far, one of the Mets' underachieving bullpen's biggest culprits has been Manny Acosta, who has simply looked lost on the mound for the entire season. Yes, the same Manny Acosta that was closing games for the Mets late in 2011.
After two more or less solid seasons as a Mets reliever, the Mets were hoping for another good year from Acosta, but what they have seen from him has been far below expectations.
Acosta turned into a mop-up pitcher and he has rarely seen appearances in late innings. For the most part, he has been used in the middle innings if the starting pitcher struggled early on. And even if the Mets were already losing by a big margin when he would come in, he would then give up even more runs.
As a result, Acosta ended up spending all of June and almost all of July in the minor leagues, due to the 11.86 ERA he had by May 29. He has been better since returning from the minor leagues, but it still does not completely make up for the horrendous start he had in the first two months of the season.
Acosta will be eligible for arbitration in the offseason, but it's unlikely that the Mets will bring him back after the season he has had this year. If anything, the Mets could re-sign him to a minor league contract, if no other teams show much interest, but hopefully Acosta's time with the Mets will be over.
Defining Statistic: .154 Batting Average for Left-Handed Hitters Against Byrdak
Once again, Tim Byrdak was a very solid left-handed specialist in the bullpen and a good number of the Mets' wins in the first half may not have been possible if Byrdak did not shut down left-handed hitters as well as he did.
The first three months of Byrdak's season was good for the most part, but in July, he had a 7.45 ERA for the month, as the Mets struggled mightily as a team.
On August 6. though, it was announced that he had a shoulder injury and would be forced to miss a full year of baseball. In other words, he will not be on a major league mound until July or August of 2013.
For a 38-year old pitcher like Byrdak, this could become a career-threatening injury. The Mets will most likely not re-sign him in the offseason and it would be surprising if another team signed him with the injury he going through. Hopefully, Byrdak's time in baseball in baseball is not over, but it could very well happen at this point.
In his two years as a Met, Byrdak continued to be the very solid left-handed specialist that Pedro Feliciano once was from 2006-2010. Byrdak was also a great clubhouse presence and brought a lot of comedy to his younger teammates in the most unique ways.
Defining Statistic: .140 Batting Average For Left-Handed Hitters Against Edgin
With the Mets in need of a second left-handed reliever earlier in the season, the team could have tried to acquire another southpaw. Instead, they brought up Josh Edgin, who made his major league debut immediately after the All-Star break.
Edgin was supposed to be the second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen alongside Tim Byrdak, but when Byrdak suffered his season-ending injury, Edgin had to take on an even bigger role than expected. He has done very well though with a 3.42 ERA in 29 appearances.
Edgin is now slated to be the Mets' left-handed specialist of the future and will hopefully have many more good seasons to come. As long as he does his job of getting left-handed hitters out, the Mets will certainly be satisfied with that.
Defining Statistic: .278 Batting Average For Left-Handed Hitters Against Ramirez
One reason why the Mets were excited about what looked to be an improved bullpen this year was the acquisition of Ramon Ramirez. He was acquired with Andres Torres from the Giants to provide more bullpen depth, but he has not been as effective as he was in 2010 for the Giants.
A 3-3 record with a 4.24 ERA might not look particularly bad, but one would have to actually watch him pitch to see why he has underachieved this year. Ramirez has simply never been pitching particularly well all season. He has given up home runs at the most critical moments and has pitched poorly against left-handed pitching.
In fact, one of the reasons why the Mets began the year with just Tim Byrdak as the only left-handed reliever was because the team was confident that Ramirez would pitch well to both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
Unfortunately, those preseason assessments were given too early because Ramirez has struggled with left-handed hitters all year and should not have been given all those opportunities that he had.
Perhaps the bright lights of New York got to Ramirez's head and had an effect on his struggles, but regardless, he has been a disappointment and the Mets now probably regret acquiring him. Ramirez will be a free agent at the end of the year and is very unlikely to return to the Mets in 2013.
Defining Statistic: 1.31 ERA in the Second Half of the Season
The very tall and heavily tattooed Jon Rauch, at first, looked like another Mets' reliever bust with the awful months he had in May and June. After winning three games with a 2.53 ERA in April, Rauch had a 5.56 ERA in May and a 4.50 ERA in June as he got buried in the bullpen.
Then, once July began, Rauch instantly turned into the pitcher the Mets had been hoping to see. He has a remarkable 1.31 ERA in the second half, despite all the struggles the Mets have endured since the All-Star break. The fact that Rauch isn't closing by now is quite surprising, but he has done very well lately for the Mets.
Rauch will be a free agent at year's end and unless another team blows him away with a big contract, the Mets are more likely to re-sign him than some of their other relievers. Hopefully, he can remain a Met for at least one more year with the second half he has had.
Defining Statistic: 2.97 ERA
Although he may not have been pitching nearly as well as the Mets had hoped for, Bobby Parnell has still been arguably the most consistent reliever for the Mets over the entire season. He has not had an ERA in a particular month over 3.60 and he has been a very solid set-up man for the most part.
When Frank Francisco got hurt, Parnell became the Mets' temporary closer. He managed to get four saves, but was not completely impressive in his new role. Thus, when Francisco was healthy, he became the closer again.
At some point, the Mets will have to decide if Parnell will indeed become the closer of the future or not. He is still under team control for a few years, so it's not like the Mets will be in a particular rush to come to a conclusion. For now, Parnell will likely continue to be the Mets' top set-up man in 2013.
Defining Statistic: 5.66 ERA as the Mets' Closer
When analyzing the bullpen of a baseball team, it always starts, and fittingly ends with the closer. Although other Mets relievers have done worse, Frank Francisco is the ultimate representation of the Mets' bullpen simply because he is the closer.
Given a two-year contract to become the Mets' new closer, Francisco pitched a shutout ninth inning on Opening Day to get his first save. Since Opening Day, there have been very few good moments this year for Francisco.
Francisco had a 7.71 ERA in April and a 4.76 ERA in May. He then improved to a 2.16 ERA in June before being placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique later that month. Francisco then returned in early August and resumed his closing duties. His time on the disabled list did not improve matters at all with his August ERA at 9.82.
This, plus multiple emotional outbursts, has led to a very disappointing season for Francisco. Somehow though, he does have 23 saves despite all the meltdowns he has had, but only five of them have occurred since the All-Star break.
General manager Sandy Alderson's decisions have almost always ended up in the Mets' favor, but this has been by far one of his biggest mistakes, especially with Francisco under contract for 2013 as well.
Unfortunately, that is the case and the Mets will have to figure out whether to hope for a bounce-back season from him next year or to sign or trade for another proven closer that can solidify the ninth inning and then put Francisco as a set-up man.
All in all, Francisco has literally made just about every Mets fan think of Armando Benitez when he's on the mound, both in physical appearance and performance. The difference though is that Francisco has never been dominant at any point this year like Benitez was for four and a half seasons.