Tuesday, April 17, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ Johan Santana Still Has Much to Prove

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:   Don't Throw Caution to the Wind Just Yet.  Johan STILL Has to Convince Us He Is Okay.

On the same night the Mets went down to Georgia and won their seventh game of the season out of ten played so far, Dillon Gee became the Mets' first starting pitcher to conquer the seventh inning.  He successfully negotiated a seven inning win unlike any Met pitcher has so far this season.  And no, I'm not trying to overstate that.  But it's nice to discuss all the same.

If we were placing bets one which starter would have been first to finish the 7th inning on the winning side, my well thought out answer would have been R.A. Dickey.  My hunch would have been Jon Niese.  And Jon Niese came close.  But no cigar.  Instead, it was the Mets' number five starter.  Go figure.  But after the season he had last year, none of us are surprised; just really really pleased!  I left Johan Santana out of the running as he is supposedly still trying to build himself back to old form. And Mike Pelfrey? Well, he's still trying to prove himself all over again.

Dillon Gee's start Monday night concluded the rotation's second go around.  And for Met Fans, so far, so great.  Every start has been damn near stellar.  And finally cracking the seventh inning as a rotation will help the bullpen out substantially; as opposed to them having to account for three to four innings per game.

The third time around the Mets' rotation begins tonight with Johan's start in Atlanta.  For Johan, the next two or three starts will give us much insight into exactly how well Johan Santana is progressing.  On the cautious side, there is fatigue to be leery about, considering this is the first time he is asking his shoulder to endure repeated, and scheduled stress.  We must also be watchful for any signs of unusual soreness; any reoccurring discomfort; and hints, or even twinges of pain.  Don't forget our concern in Spring Training when we questioned whether Johan was being rushed to start Opening Day.  That concern was warranted.  And after two starts, I wouldn't throw caution to the wind just yet.

He still hasn't reached Johan-like velocity.  For now, Santana still has short term goals to reach.  And I have a hunch Johan will be challenging himself tonight.  He has only made to the fifth inning in each of his two starts. That has to do with pitch-count also.  But obviously, the aim will be for him to join-up with the rest of the rotation in reaching the sixth inning.  So I'm merely saying we are not out of the woods yet.  There's always the not-so-remote possibility he can over-extend himself.

But things are going well.  And on the brighter side, he has been rather good in his first two starts.  Hasn't he?  In ten innings, he walked five but struck out thirteen.  That's promising.  But he also has surrendered seven hits.  And when combined with his walks, his WHIP remains "un-Johan" like.  So like everyone, I am very much looking forward, to his third start of the season tonight.

Like I said, he kicks off the rotation's third time around.  And we'll see if as a group, they can keep stringing together nifty starts, like they have done in every game so far.

Let's Go Mets!


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