Starting pitching excels early for the 2012 Mets

After 10 games, the Mets are 7-3 and one of the surprise teams in all of baseball. Their record is even more impressive when you consider that they are 6-1 against the Braves and Phillies, two teams which have had their way with the Mets in recent seasons and ones expected to compete for the division title while the Mets were supposed to finish in the basement.

But as surprising as the team’s start has been, equally surprising has been how they’ve achieved these strong results. Last year, the Mets finished sixth in the NL in runs scored and 13th in runs allowed. This year after 10 games their pitchers are fourth in runs/game and their batters are tied for 12th. And this change has come about despite the Mets playing six home games in Citi Field with the new drawn-in dimensions.

Each starting pitcher has been on the mound for two games. Here are their results:

JS – 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
RD – 6 IP, 2ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR
JN – 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 0 HR
MP – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 1BB, 8 K, 0 HR
DG – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
JS – 5 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 0 HR
RD – 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
JN – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
MP – 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
DG – 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
Total – 59.2 IP, 15 ER, 20 BB, 56 K, 3 HR

That works out to a 2.26 ERA with an 8.4 K/9 and a 2.80 BB/9. That type of starting pitching on a team level would have been good in the high mound 1960s and it is remarkable for a team that thought SP was a potential trouble spot coming into the season.

Obviously everything starts with the return to action of Johan Santana. No one knew what to expect from Santana in 2012 and nobody would have been shocked if he was on the disabled list at this point. Instead, he has a 0.90 ERA with 13 Ks in 10 IP. R.A. Dickey has had some trouble with the gopher ball but otherwise has been his usual baffling self. Jonathon Niese has the results after two starts to match his peripherals and is making Sandy Alderson look wise for locking him up with a long-term deal.

Even the #4 and #5 pitchers have been doing well. Mike Pelfrey does not have a win to his credit but he is getting lots of ground ball outs and keeping his walks in check. Dillon Gee had the worst start of any SP on the team his first time out but rebounded with an excellent start last night in Turner Field. Gee has 11 Ks and 2 BB for a 5.50 K/BB ratio, a marked contrast to his 54 Ks and 37 BB (1.46) in the second half of last year.

And while the focus here has been on the starters, the relievers have been strong for the most part too, with the exception of Sunday. As a group the relievers have a 2.76 ERA with 27 Ks in 29.1 IP.

The Mets’ offense has not done a great job of scoring runs but they are fifth in the National League with a .731 OPS. The problem has been a .195 AVG with RISP. And stop me if you’ve heard this one before but the Mets have come up nine times with the bases loaded and have yet to get a hit. They have managed to score three runs, thanks to two sacrifice flies and a GDP. The Giants have also come to the plate nine times with the bases loaded and have scored nine runs.

But today our focus is the great starting pitching the team has received. As the financial people like to say – past performance is not a guarantee of future results. But here in the early part of 2012, the Mets are getting the type of pitching that could propel them to the playoffs if it keeps up for the remainder of the year.

3 comments for “Starting pitching excels early for the 2012 Mets

  1. Dan Stack
    April 19, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Brian, you called out Charlie for jinx, only fair you should take it too-he he. What happened the last two days? I just assume Johan didn’t have his stuff and had shoddy defense behind him on Tuesday. Dickey was pitching in horrible conditions for the knuckleball yesterday.
    Hope they rebound this weekend vs. the Giants.
    I assume David Wright and all Mets’ fans will love not having to face Cain. He has been filthy so far and we all know his history with Wright.
    And now we draw Lincecum with his velocity down. We have to capitalize this weekend.

    • Brian Joura
      April 19, 2012 at 7:29 am

      I thought for sure Charlie would be the one to make that point…

      With Johan, when he last pitched in 2010 we saw this same type of pattern – pretty solid most days and then lit up like a Christmas tree on the others. I just think this is the new reality.

      And you hit the nail on the head with Dickey.

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