After his blowout loss in Philadelphia, the whispers started that Johan Santana was done as an elite starter. And following Mike Pelfrey’s strong outing Saturday night against the Yankees, there was even talk about how Santana was not even the ace of the Mets’ staff. Sunday night, Santana showed that both of those ideas were preposterous, as he allowed 1 ER in 7.2 IP to pick up his fourth win of the season and helped lead the Mets to taking two out of the three games in the first round of the Subway Series.

Santana cruised through the first six innings before running into trouble in his final 1.2 frames. He retired 14 consecutive batters before allowing back-to-back hits and a run in the seventh inning. He loaded the bases in the eighth but Pedro Feliciano retired Robinson Cano to end the threat. The Yankees scored two runs in the ninth inning, but Francisco Rodriguez struck out Alex Rodriguez, the 10th time in 17 ABs he has fanned A-Rod, to save the win, Santana’s 33rd as a Met.

The numbers this year for Santana do not look overwhelming, as he has a 3.42 ERA, which would be his highest mark since he was a reliever back in 2001. But Santana has had two bad starts in 10 appearances this year, which have skewed his overall numbers. Besides the meltdown in Philadelphia, in which he allowed 4 HR and 10 ER in 3.2 IP, Santana also allowed 5 ER in 5 IP in his second start of the season against the Nationals.

Of his remaining eight games, Santana has 7 Quality Starts and in his other outing he allowed 4 ER in 7.2 IP. Overall in 2010, Santana has 17 BB, 49 Ks and 6 HR in 63.1 IP. But if you remove the game against the Phillies, where he was either tipping pitches or Philadelphia was stealing signs with the aid of binoculars, Santana’s line this year is:

59.2 IP, 50 H, 15 BB, 48 Ks, 2.11 ERA, 1.089 WHIP

Yes, his velocity is down and his strikeouts are down but that is some fabulous pitching. All Mets fans should be thrilled with that line and hope he can keep it up for the remainder of the year.

When the Mets acquired Santana, expectations were through the roof. And two-plus years later, some might consider his tenure in New York a disappointment, because not only has there not been a World Series appearance, the Mets have missed the playoffs in both full seasons and find themselves currently in last place.

But anyone who feels let down by Santana truly needs a reality check. In 51 career decisions he has a 33-18 record for a .647 winning percentage. lists career leaders for every team, with a minimum of 500 IP or 50 career decisions. Here is how Santana ranks among All-Time Mets

Winning Percentage – .647 – 2nd (Gooden .649)
ERA – 2.87 – 3rd (Seaver 2.57)
WHIP – 1.176 – 6th (Seaver 1.076)

Even his 33 wins ties him with Roger McDowell for 28th on the team’s career leaderboard. He should move into the top 20 in wins by the end of the season.

Santana’s big night capped an excellent series for Mets’ starting pitchers. Here’s how the starters- Hisanori Takahashi, Pelfrey and Santana – did this weekend against the Yankees:

HT – 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks
MP – 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks
JS – 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks
Total – 19.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 BB, 15 Ks for a 0.92 ERA

Santana showed again that he is a great pitcher and you exclude him from the game’s top hurlers at your own peril. The rest of the team proved that it is too soon to write them off, either. The other starters pitched lights out, Rodriguez did some strong pitching and even the bats started to come alive the last two games.

Bring on the Phillies.

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