Matt Cerrone mentioned Johan Santana’s run of bad luck on MetsBlog earlier today, which is funny to me because earlier in the season, sabermetricians everywhere were rapping about Santana’s run of good luck.
Remember when Santana was walking more batters than he was striking out, yet somehow keeping his ERA down, and everyone was all, “Johan Santana sucks now, the results are illusory,” and waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Well something different happened: Santana seems to have returned to being Santana. Granted, his rates for the season are still atypical due to his performance for most of the year. His K/9 is way below his career average.
But in five starts in August, Santana has struck out 43 batters in 39 1/3 innings while walking nine. He has allowed five home runs — more in line with his normal rate than the low total he allowed earlier in the season — but has a 2.29 ERA over that stretch.
It’s a very small sample, for sure. And maybe I’m grasping at a reasonably arbitrary set of starts to try to prove to myself that a once-great pitcher still under lucrative contract for several more seasons with my favorite team has a lot left in the tank.
Or maybe Santana is still building up arm strength after offseason surgery or fixing some mechanical hiccup or not tipping pitches anymore. I don’t know.
All I know is that, in a season when the Mets’ wins and losses don’t really matter a hell of a lot anymore, I care a lot more about seeing Santana right, striking out lots of batters and dominating opponents, than I do about his win-loss record. (Which is not to say Matt doesn’t.)
Sure, it’d be nice if the Mets could win some more games, but a strong finish for Santana could help convince everyone that landing a No. 1 starting pitcher doesn’t have to be the No. 1 priority this offseason.