Johan Santana’s run support, Wright’s hitting streaks, Niese and the HR ball

In his first four games of 2012, the Mets scored six runs for Johan Santana. Since then they have tallied 54 runs in his last 10 starts, an unexpected offensive explosion. Poor run support has plagued Santana since he joined the Mets but he has little to complain about in that department recently. And the results have come in his W-L record, as he is 5-1 in his last 10 starts and has decisions in his last five appearances.

Overall, Santana has been supported with 4.43 runs per game according to Baseball-Reference, compared to a National League average of 4.17 rpg. That stands in stark contrast to what he received when he was last healthy in 2010, when the Mets hitters gave him an average of 2.90 rpg while the league average was 4.33 rpg.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are all of the runs scored in games started by the pitcher, so they did not score all of them while Santana was on the mound. Still, it’s nice to see the offense not take a day off when Santana is on the hill. Despite strong pitching throughout the year, Santana did not pick up his first win until May 5th.

According to ESPN, Santana is on pace for 194 IP and a record of 12-7. It would be nice to see him rewarded with a few more wins but I think that’s a line that we all would have gladly signed up for on Opening Day when there were still a ton of concerns about his health coming back from shoulder problems.

WRIGHT ON THE MONEY – How do you know when you’re having a good year? When you have an 11-game hitting streak, one in which you’re batting .366, and it only raises your overall AVG by one point. It’s been that type of season for David Wright, one that has reestablished him as one of the top offensive players in the game.

It’s the third hitting streak this year for Wright to reach double-digits and is the longest one of the season for the Mets’ third baseman. He opened the year with a 10-game hitting streak, in which he posted a 1.231 OPS in 45 PA. Later in April, he started another 10-game streak and in 43 PA he notched a 1.225 OPS. His current streak, which started on June 9th, has covered 47 PA and he’s recorded a .983 OPS.

THOLE STRUGGLES SINCE CONCUSSION – In previous years, Josh Thole has gotten off to poor starts but rebounded as the weather warmed up. This year Thole got off to a hot start but has really struggled since being activated from the DL. In his last 62 PA, he has a .237/.262/.254 line in 62 PA. He has only two walks in that stretch. In his hot start to open the season, Thole had 9 BB in his first 58 PA.

A NIESE STRETCH – While it seems like “Dickey and Santana and pray for manna,” Jonathon Niese has done his best to give the Mets a chance to win over the last month. In his last five starts, Niese has a 2.48 ERA over 32.2 IP. In that span he’s limited batters to a .600 OPS and has allowed 3 HR and 10 BB while picking up 35 Ks.

Home runs have really plagued Niese this season, as he’s surrendered 11 gopher balls in 75.1 IP overall. Last year in 157.1 IP, he allowed 14 HR. So, while the 3.5 K/BB ratio and the 9.64 K/9 are certainly impressive in his last five starts, the most important number may be the 3 HR allowed over 135 batters faced.

THE OLD MAN KEEPS ROLLING ONMiguel Batista lost his spot in the starting rotation after lower back problems landed him on the DL in early May. But since he’s returned, he’s been one of the team’s most effective relievers. In seven appearances since being activated, the 41 year old has a 2.57 ERA out of the pen. That’s the second-best mark among the team’s relievers in June, trailing just the 2.45 ERA of closer Frank Francisco.

CHECKING IN ON CAPTAIN CLUTCHKirk Nieuwenhuis got out of the gates strong with the Mets and was one of the reasons the team got off to such a good start. But since the beginning of May, Nieuwenhuis has been rather pedestrian. In his last 161 PA, the rookie has a .262/.319/.386 line. The National League has a .715 OPS as a whole this year and Nieuwenhuis has a .705 mark since May 1st. The worrisome thing is that it’s taken a .347 BABIP for Nieuwenhuis to post that .705 OPS. Until he improves his strikeout rate, Nieuwenhuis will need a high BABIP to be an average player.

METS DELIVER IN A PINCH – Even with Mike Baxter shelved, Mets’ pinch-hitters have continued to produce. In 130 PA this year the team’s PH have a .269/.377/.472 line. That’s the second-most pinch-hitting appearances in the National League. Not only have they come up a lot but they have been productive, too. Their .849 OPS ranks fourth in the league and their 23 RBIs is the most in the loop.

4 comments for “Johan Santana’s run support, Wright’s hitting streaks, Niese and the HR ball

  1. AJ
    June 23, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I like the way Terry Collins is using all his players, running out a substantially different lineup depending on whether the opposing pitcher is a lefty or righty. It would have been a bit much to expect Nieuwenhuis to continue through the year at the same pace he began, but his contributions while being paired with Torres in centerfield and pinch hitting in games he doesn’t start are still valuable. I remember reading somewhere that one of Casey Stengel’s unsung talents during his years with the Yankees was his skill at managing a platoon strategy.

    So far, this Mets season has been SO much more enjoyable to watch than the past three or four.

    • June 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

      I’m not sure when platooning became a dirty word.

      Not only Stengel but Gil Hodges and Davey Johnson used platoons, too. When the two managers with World Series titles with the club used the same technique – you’d think the fanbase would be a bit more open to the idea.

  2. Metsense
    June 23, 2012 at 7:59 am

    David Wright has bounced back and deserves a long term extension. He really is the face of the franchise. Johan and RA are the reason the Mets are winning. Johan as a wonderful person and a great team player so my next sentence is not directed as criticism. Is he worth 23M a year or would a team be better with two 11M pitchers and a deeper rotation? I am glad we have Johan and since the money is spent (and the Mets will make a profit this year) it doesn’t really matter. It is easy to be satisfied with Kirk and the platoon with Torres works well. It eases him into the majors and allows him to learn and adjust and be successful. Valdespin/Hairston may produce the same results. Turner/Murphy also should be considered. Thole needs to perform to at least to an average .711 OPS for NL catchers. This is an area the Mets should look for a veteran RH catcher with some pop at the trade deadline. Finally, 23 games into playing above .500 clubs and the Mets are 12-11. I am a believer.

    • June 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

      The $23 million versus two $11 million is an interesting question. Of course everything depends on how they actually pitch. It also depends on how much depth is elsewhere on the club.

      Last year, FanGraphs valued each Win Above Replacement (WAR) at roughly $4.5 million. So, the two $11 million pitchers would be (again, roughly) 2.5 fWAR pitchers. That’s people like 2011 Derek Lowe and Trevor Cahill. The $23 million pitcher would be roughly a 5 WAR pitcher or someone like 2011 Chris Carpenter.

      Generally, I would rather have the $23 million pitcher, pitching to his salary level, than two $11 million pitcher, each pitching to their salary level. Of course there’s no guarantee that will happen…

      As for the 2013 Mets, I’d definitely rather have Johan than two guys who combined to make his same salary. It’s hard to imagine him being *worse* a year further removed from surgery. He’s proven to me his ability to pitch with reduced “stuff” than he had pre-surgery. While I don’t think he’s going to be a 5-fWAR pitcher, I do see him in the 3.5-4.0 range.

      Given that the club has Dickey, Niese and Gee already under control and likely their choice whether to bring back Pelfrey and/or Chris Young, the value of having two pitchers instead of Santana seems even further reduced. Then you think about Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia with a full year of Triple-A ball under their belt and depth shouldn’t be the issue in 2013 as it’s been here in 2012.

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