Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stu Speaks!: Johan not quite filling the "savior" role

Correspondent Stuart Millstein is back, weighing in on Johan Santana's performance in last night's Mets bullpen collapse.

When I visited TONY BLOGS last week, I was happy to see that the third member of the CortSide team, Josh Garcia, had written a post of his own. For the first time in over a year, the CortSide guys were reunited and I must say it felt good. It got me thinking how much people would be willing to pay to hear a CortSide reunion. While it may not reach the $137 million that the Mets gave to Johan Santana this past offseason, I know that none of us will leave the show early like how Johan left the game early last night against the Phillies.

The Mets acquired Santana to be their ace and to be the player who could let Mets fans forget about last year’s collapse. Without question, over the past five years, Santana has been one of the three best pitchers in baseball and without question a true workhorse. While his ERA (3.05) is good and he had a stretch where he was getting no run support, his record is a mediocre 8-7. He’s given up 17 home runs, and also far too often has left early when I believe he still had something left in the tank (i.e. last night against the Phillies, his previous start against the Phillies, etc.) As a whole, I have been disappointed in Johan’s play this season.

Granted, you don’t want to overwork your ace when he is signed for the next six years. However, there does come a point when you have to go that extra inning. With both teams tied atop the NL East coming into last night’s game, Santana had a perfect opportunity to stamp himself a Met. While he did pitch well for 8 innings, it was him not coming out for the 9th that he will be remembered for. He only had 105 pitches with 75 of those being strikes. In a game against your division foe, who just happened to be the team that overtook you last season when you collapsed, Johan has to at least try to finish the job. If he comes out and gives up a hit or walks a batter after a long at bat, then you pull him. But only then. Especially when your All-Star closer (I say that loosely) is hurting and was not available for last nights game.

Last nights loss hurts in not just that it was to the Phillies but that your ace goes 8 strong innings and the bullpen blows it. This is exactly what did the Mets in last year and they still haven’t learned. With about 60 games left in the season, this race between the Phillies and Mets is going to be tight and every game means something. I just hope the result is different this year than last.

No comments: