With today’s unfortunate news out of Washington I thought it was appropriate to do something I’ve never done here before, and re-post much of what I wrote about Stephen Strasburg on June 13 under the title “Right Now He’s Karl Spooner, Maybe Harry Krause.” This was, sadly, prophetic, and I sincerely hope it’s only temporary.
From this blog on June 18th:
Johan Santana Must Be Hurt
This does not come from Mets sources, and it does not come from ballpark speculation, and it certainly does not come from the player himself, but barring an extraordinary breakdown in the mechanics of the game’s most-mechanically sound pitcher, Johan Santana must be pitching with an imposing injury.
This thought had been in the back of my mind since a fired-up Santana virtually willed the Mets to a victory in Boston, then followed that with a six-walk game against Washington on May 27, and finally his four-homer victory over the Phillies last week. Having now gotten to see Santana from field level during his implosion this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, there is not only the loss of velocity suggested by the radar guns, but he also seemed to have a softer break on his breaking stuff, and he clearly had trouble keeping the ball down. Many of the Yankees’ nine hits would have been swinging strikes on Santana pitches in the dirt, if he was 100 percent. Hideki Matsui’s homer might as well have been hit off a tee.
The problem, of course, is that all pitchers from Little Leagues to Jamie Moyer start hurting after the 50th pitch of the season and never really stop hurting. With experience comes the ability to push the threshold outwards. As Santana proved last year, shutting out Florida just days before surgery, you can go mind-over-matter on such things.
Often it’s even worse. The impediment to effectiveness can come before the pain. This was the middle of June; Santana now says he first felt discomfort in the elbow just before the All-Star break. It is certainly plausible, given that he’s had chips cleaned out of that elbow before, that he had stiffness or just a minor loss of his usual functionality, in the joint, long before it began to really hurt.
And thus this has been one of the few truly amazing Mets seasons. The opening day line-up in Cincinnati:
Reyes, ss (all but officially done for year)
Murphy, lf (failure to field there, moved to first, failure to hit there)
Wright, 3b (concussion, assumed to be back next week, don’t assume)
Delgado, 1b (out since May, might make it back for a token appearance)
Beltran, cf (out with an endless bruise, might have a cameo yet)
Church, rf (traded to Atlanta)
Schneider, c (to disabled list, back, in a platoon with non-roster invitee Omir Santos)
Santana, p (done as of August 25)
Relieved by Green, p (totally inconsistent)
Pinch-hit for by Anderson (released days later)
Relieved by Putz, p (just shut down, possibly for the year)
Relieved by Rodriguez, p (at key moments, utterly inconsistent).
Were that not amazing enough, the host Reds produced the following line-up:
Hairston, LF (now with the Yankees)
McDonald, CF (to the minors, just recalled)
Replaced by Dickerson, CF (back to the DL)
Votto, 1B (to the DL)
Phillips, 2B (inexplicably healthy)
Bruce, RF (out in July, presumably for the season)
Encarnacion, 3B (hurt, traded, hurt after he was traded)
Hernandez, C (hurt, moved to 1B to replace Votto, hurt again, might make it back this year)
Gonzalez, SS (to Red Sox)’
Harang, P (out for the year after my injury, the emergency appendectomy)