As I write this Johan Santana is getting ready for his 32nd start in a Met uniform. And like the last 31 it comes as a "must win". This one in particular comes after eight of his fellow staff-mates have just been in use. This game is a "must win, must go 6+ innings". Tomorrow will be the fourth game in a four game series aginast the Washington Nationals. The Mets hope to split the series and regain the lead in the NL East over the Phillidelphia Phillies.
We all remember Santana's signing this offseason a fun $137.5 million good for seven years. This setting the record for highest contract ever signed to a pitcher. Going to a National League team with a solid pitching park and a productive offense many had exceedingly high hopes for Johan, already a two time Cy Young Award winner. (I heard 30 wins even) It's now September 17th and Johan is jammed at a mere 13 wins.
Cy Young is certainly out of the question at this point (Give the damn things to Lee and Lincecum... I know their teams suck, but look at these seasons) but Johan has made his case for being "worth it". While up among the greats in virtually every pitching statistic, Johan leads the league in quality starts only with 25. 25 is a terrific quality start number, but usually coincides with more than 13 wins. It seems that not only is he hypnotizing other teams with his signature speed change. He's leaving our hitters and bullpen awing over that last change-up. Well that's not very likely the case for lack of performance in his starts, but whatever it is, he's not getting the help he deserves.
Santana does deserve better stats certainly, but who wants to pay $15-20 mill for what could have been a great season? You need to look at the circumstances of each Mets start for Santana.
Not only do they not hit for him, they seem to be on the bring of an all out collapse by the time they reach his spot every 5 days. Santana is left to either make up for bullpen overuse, take on another ace of a rival team, or be the stopper of a bad skid.
Essentialy what you are asking Santana to do in all 32 of his starts up through tomorrow now is be the best pitcher on the field. For the most part he has delivered. While better seasons statistically are sure to come in his seven year contract with the Mets. Johan has been the ace of the staff. And isn't that why we got him?
Anyway, look for Johan to have another big start tomorrow. The Mets need wins, he's the big difference between last years team, lets see a different result. (I like SNY's comment about Santana need to rest the pen tomorrow. Saying he must strive for 9 innings, if it goes 12-15, well yeah, that too.)