11:26 am Jun. 26, 2012
Over the past two nights, the New York Mets have reminded everyone of how they look when co-aces R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana pitch like mere humans.
On Sunday night, Dickey allowed five runs in six innings. He's only allowed that many runs in one other start this season.
On Monday night, in a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, Johan Santana allowed two runs over six innings, a perfectly respectable outing. But he walked three, allowed a home run, and thus racked up a pitch count that required extended involvement in the game by the Mets very bad bullpen.
Santana has suffered a notable lack of strength since his no-hitter. In the 11 starts leading up to the no-hitter on June 1, Santana pitched into the seventh inning six times, including five of his last six starts. He walked less than three per nine, and allowed four home runs in 68 innings.
In four starts since the no-hitter, he's yet to record an out in the seventh inning. He's walked more than four batters per nine innings, and has allowed five home runs in 22 innings.
In starts in which Santana pitches into the seventh inning, the Mets are 4-2. When he doesn't, they are 4-5.
The same is true for Dickey. When he pitches into the seventh inning, the Mets are 9-0. When he doesn't, they are 3-3.
Santana nor Dickey haven't necessarily been bad in those short outings, mind you. Five of the six starts in which Dickey failed to pitch into the seventh inning were quality starts, and in Santana's nine starts without recording an out in the seventh inning, his E.R.A. is a solid 3.97.
It stands to reason that a team with such epic problems both defensively and in the bullpen would need some other area to be particularly effective if the Mets are to contend. The good news is, Dickey now has an E.R.A. of 2.91 since the start of the 2010 season, Santana has a career mark of 3.10. So there's ample evidence that both of them are extremely good pitchers, notwithstanding Santana's recent shoulder surgery and Dickey's late blossoming.
The flip side of that, however, is that the Mets will have trouble remaining in the race if the two pitchers don't pitch consistently deep into games throughout the summer. And that may be what trips up a man recovering from shoulder surgery and a 37-year-old who needed pain killers to get through his starts over the second half of 2011--and with them, the 2012 Mets.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven strong innings and the Yankees hit three home runs and beat the Indians, 7-1 Monday night at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have the best record in baseball.
J.R. Smith has until today to decide whether to opt out of his contract with the Knicks. The Post reports that he's decided to opt out, but there's been nothing official. If he stays, he'll earn around $2.5 million next season while functioning in a "box of chocolates" role off the bench. If he becomes a free agent, he'll still be a good bet to return, but probably closer to $2.8 million.
Meanwhile, Frank Isola thinks the Knicks might jettison Amar'e Stoudemire.