Deconstructing Johan: First Half Breakdown of the Mets' Staff Ace

Jason BurkeCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 14:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets pitches against the New York Yankees on June 14, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

It's official: The All-Star break is finally over. That means it is time to take one last opportunity to reflect upon all that's transpired during this first half, be it good or bad.

For the New York Mets, it's been a long, tumultuous ride through the first 87 games of the season, and depending on your point of view (ever the optimist or always the pessimist), the Mets have been one of two possible choices: an incredible disappointment or an injury-plagued team fighting for its survival.

In either case, the Mets have been riding highs and lows throughout the season, and no one has been more indicative of that pattern than the staff ace, Johan Santana.

At a passing glance, when looking at Johan's numbers, one can make a case that despite it all, Santana has held up strong.

W      L       G      GS      ERA       IP       H        R       ER      HR      BB      SO    

10     7       18     18      3.09     116    103       49      40      15      37      112


On his current pace, Santana's projected win totals are 19, innings worked would be 216, and his strikeouts and walks would be 209 against 69.

Those are terrific numbers as far as compiling stats and certainly more than most teams can expect from their staff ace.

Numbers aside, however, Santana's season has mirrored the Mets' performance to a certain extent in that the 2009 campaign has been one of brilliance and setbacks, frustration and accomplishment.

The tale of Johan Santana's first half can be broken down over the course of three months, split into two and one-month segments.

In the first, Santana was approaching territory broached by some of the all-time greats—the second, very pedestrian.

In his first five starts of April, Santana went 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA; in May, 4-1 and an anemic 2.43 ERA.

The fact that Santana was 7-2 during this span underscores the fact that in both losses, not only did the Mets only score four runs, he also did not allow an earned run.

In those two months, Santana struck out 44 and 42, respectively. His batting average against never strayed above .200 (.166, .197).

Then came June.

The summer month brought a 2-4 record and an ERA (6.19) that most fifth starters wouldn't have.

During June, some speculated that Santana might have either a dead arm or an injury plaguing him, especially evidenced by a drastic drop in his overall strikeouts for the month, as he only had 18.

He also suffered the worst outing of his career against the Yankees, lasting only three innings and surrendering nine earned runs. It was just one of three starts in the month where he yielded five or more earned.

One good sign, however, was the fact that besides his three-inning clunker against the Yankees, he managed to work six innings in his other five starts.

So far, July has only produced a 1-1 mark, but Santana seems to have reverted to form as evidenced by a sterling 1.29 ERA for the month.

The ray of light for the Mets is that Santana owns the second half of the Major League season. Obviously for the Mets to make any push, they will need to get healthy and have the offense contribute.

It doesn't go without notice, as flawed as the Mets may be, but a lot of weight is also on the expensive left arm of Johan Santana.