On Thursday, Chris Young rebounded from a poor performance in his previous start with a fine outing, as he hurled 7 IP, allowed 1 ER and earned a game score of 69, his highest mark in 11 starts this year. Young has come back from a shoulder injury to be a stabilizing influence in the Mets’ starting rotation. His 64 IP is equal to what he produced in 2010 and 2011 combined and he’s likely to finish with his highest IP total since 2007, when he threw 173 IP.
Young has a Quality Start in seven of his 11 games this year. And these are not the bare minimum QS variety, either. Young has pitched into the seventh inning five times and only one of his QS ended with 6 IP and 3 ER. For a guy who did not sign until the very end of Spring Training, Young has been an unqualified success.
And he likely will be pitching elsewhere next season.
One of the hallmarks of the Omar Minaya regime was that if a veteran came on and gave a solid performance, that Minaya would reward him with a new contract and a hefty raise for the following season. And more times than not, that move would blow up in his face. Remember the second go-round with Moises Alou, Damion Easley and Jose Valentin for examples of this phenomenon.
Meanwhile, as much of a lifesaver as Young has been for the 2012 Mets, he still has a 4.22 ERA, which doesn’t sound bad until you consider the NL average this year is 3.98, giving Young an ERA+ of 90. So, we have a below-average pitcher on the wrong side of 30 with a history of injury problems. Plus the Mets are undoubtedly anticipating a starting five of Santana, Dickey, Harvey, Niese and Gee, with Hefner as the primary insurance policy and Wheeler looking for a mid-year promotion a la Harvey in 2012.
Young is still an MLB quality pitcher. But he will likely command a salary greater than the bargain-basement deal he signed this year and he will undoubtedly want to go to a place where he has a guaranteed spot in the Opening Day rotation. Hopefully he throws another half-dozen QS the remainder of the year and earns himself a hefty deal somewhere else in 2013.
BAY BATTING IN OTHERS – Jason Bay delivered a bases-loaded single in the first inning Thursday, plating two runners and getting the Mets off to a good start in a game they would go on to win, 9-1. They were the 9th and 10th RBIs of the season for Bay, who has been limited to 38 games due to various injuries. Bay has five homers on the season, meaning he’s driven himself in five times and he’s driven in someone else five times.
Bay has come to the plate with 88 runners on base and plated five of those for a 5.7 OBI% – which is, um, not good. It is hard to understand a statistic without any context. The best in baseball over a full season will have an OBI% around 20 while team leaders will generally be in the upper teens and most starters will be in double-digits. In 2011, no great year itself, Bay had a 13.1 OBI%.
PARNELL BY INNINGS – The Mets expect to get Frank Francisco back for the San Diego series, meaning that Bobby Parnell can move back into a setup role. Most view this as a positive thing, as they believe Parnell has trouble getting the final outs of the game. But the numbers in 2012 do not bear out this point of view.
TEJADA KEEPS RIPPING LINE DRIVES – Wednesday, Ruben Tejada hit his first home run of the season. But despite his lack of power, Tejada is quickly becoming a fan favorite. He does not give away at-bats, he has a good eye at the plate and he has become a line drive machine. His LD% is 31.6 percent, easily the best on the team. Tejada does not have enough PA for the leaderboards but only two qualified players have a LD% above 30 percent. If we drop the PA minimum to 150, only five players in MLB have a LD% over 30 and Tejada’s is the best.
VALDY’S SPLITS – Seemingly everyone wants Jordany Valdespin to get regular playing time the remainder of the season, hoping his early-season heroics will continue. But the truth is that Valdespin has been fantastic as a pinch-hitter and something else as a starter. Here are the numbers:
HAIRSTON VERSUS LHP – The Mets listened to trade offers for Scott Hairston at the trade deadline but were demanding a top-five prospect back and no one bit. It’s hard to find fault for teams refusing that price. It’s a very nice thing to have Hairston to help balance the Mets’ lefty-heavy lineup. Here are his numbers this year versus LHP:
.308/.343/.600 in 137 PA. His .292 ISO versus lefties is the 10th-best in MLB among those with at least 100 PA.
BULLPEN CONTINUES TO GET IT DONE – Updating a story from earlier in the week, the Mets bullpen has been much improved since the team swapped Manny Acosta for Pedro Beato. In the 10 games since Acosta rejoined the club, the relievers have a 2.89 ERA in 28 IP. Walks have been a bit of a problem (17) but 27 strikeouts and 1 HR allowed have balanced those out.