When the New York Mets signed Johan Santana in the winter of 2007 to a 6 year $137 million contract, they envisioned him logging 200+ innings and leading the Mets to multiple playoff appearances. He had won the Cy Young two years prior and was throwing the ball better than any southpaw. Unfortunately for Mets fans he had arm injuries which culminated in Santana missing the entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. You knew he would lose some velocity, but weren’t sure if he was going to be able to regain his accuracy, stamina or his secondary pitches. All those questions were answered Friday when Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history over the Cardinals.
There were hints that an outing like this was coming. All through the season he has been putting together quality start after quality start, highlighted by his last start on May 26th against San Diego, where he threw a complete game 4 hitter with GB/FB rate of 10/4. The go to pitch Santana was using was his change-up, which is still the best in baseball (honorable mention to Cole Hamels). The unbelievable thing about Santana now is he uses that pitch along with an 88-90MPH fastball, instead of the 92-94MPH fastball he had in Minnesota and his first years in New York. The real question Mets fans have is whether Santana can stay healthy the whole season, because even with less power in his arm, the secondary pitches are allowing a rejuvenated Santana to dominate hitters and pitch like the ace his price tag carries.
In Case You Missed It
- Magglio Ordonez retired after a 15 year career. Tiger fans will always remember the home run against Oakland to advance to the World Series in 2006, while the rest of baseball might remember his long locks of hair that would have Kenny Powers jealous.
- Roy Oswalt is leaving the ranch to go pitch for the Texas Rangers. The veteran right-hander won’t be ready until months end, but having a veteran like that in the rotation at the end of the season could make all the difference for the Rangers to try and defend their AL crown.
- Adam Lind was demoted to AAA Las Vegas, while Vladimir Guerrero was promoted to Vegas. My advice to pitchers facing them: throw it low and out of the strike zone; they will chase (hopefully for their sake they don’t do any chasing at the casinos)
- 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler is now eligible to sign with any team in the majors. With he immediate success of Yoenis Cespedas, Soler’s services will bring all the big spenders (Boston, New York, etc) inquiring about his services.
Single: Future Ace? Buy or Sale?
Johan Santana wasn’t the only lefty to impress this week. Actually, Chris Sale of the White Sox has impressed all season. He was the first one of the 2010 MLB draft class to debut and he has hit the ground running from there. It wasn’t until this season where Chicago moved him to the bullpen, and even that was a decision they wavered on. The 23-year-old has a 7-2 record, 2.30ERA with 69K’s in 66.2 innings. The 15 strikeouts on Monday were impressive, but it forced him to throw a career high 115 pitches, which was surpassed on Sunday with his complete game 119 pitch performance. That’s a lot of pitches for a pitcher who hasn’t thrown more than 71 innings in a season. Management will be keeping a close eye on Sale to make sure his innings and amount of pitches are limited, but it’s going to be tough to pull him kid off the mound. He is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last 4 starts and hasn’t allowed more than 4 runs in any of his starts this year. He already has one of the best swing and miss pitches in his slider, very good control (16 walks) and maybe the scariest thing is he is just scratching the surface.
Double: A Team That Will Heat Up
With all the attention and expectations on the LA Angels going into the season, some might consider their 28-27 record to be a failure at this point. Albert Pujols wasn’t hitting, their pitching wasn’t up to par and their bullpen was in worst shape than the Charlotte Bobcats. But now, this is a team showing signs of life. Pujols has gotten things going at the plate, rookie Mike Trout has played All-Star level baseball, and the bullpen has gotten things straighten out led by Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri. The best teams they play in June are the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers and the Sandoval-less Giants. It would be no surprise if the Angels end the month 10 games or more over .500 and right in the hunt for the AL West crown.
Angels’ Home Games Angels’ Road Games
- Seattle - Colorado
- San Francisco – Los Angeles (NL)
- Los Angelas (NL) – Baltimore
- Arizona - Toronto
Triple: The 3 Best 1-2 Pitching Duos
To be fair, this list could look different if Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver weren’t injured, but these 3 duos are leading their respective teams to good seasons and allowing them to win games they maybe shouldn’t.
1. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
They are far and ahead better then any other duo right now. We all know Strasburg is an elite ace in only his second season, but it’s the consistent dominance that Gonzalez has shown that puts them at the top. He was striking out nearly a batter per 9 in Oakland (8.6K/9IP), but had trouble with his control (264 walks in 535.1IP). This season his K/9 is over 11 and his walks are significantly down (28 in 66.1IP). His K/BB rate is at 3.00, a career high. If you want to include Jordan Zimmerman then your talking about the best 1-2-3 in baseball
2. Johan Santana and R.A Dickey, New York Mets
The fact that these guys made the list is an unbelievable as a team going undefeated on the road in the playoffs (shoutout to L.A Kings for doing such a thing-so far). We chronicled Santana enough, but it’s the emergence of Dickey that has people scratching their heads. His 8-1 record with 2.69 ERA has him in Cy Yong talk, but his ability to stay consistent will rely on him continuing to strike batters out. His 8.6K/9 is 2.8K higher than his career average, which raises the question of if this is is a early season mirage or the real thing? Time will tell but Mets fans will surely enjoy it while it last.
When you have a rotation as deep as Tampa’s, having a 1-2 step up and separate themselves is a luxury Joe Maddon will cherish come playoff time. James Shields is pitching for a contract, and the way he’s throwing he will get a nice pay day. He is striking out a hitter an inning and is a guarantee to give the Rays over 200 innings, being that right handed bulldog to pair with the hard-throwing lefty Price.
Homerun: Matchups to Watch This Week
Cleveland @ Detroit, Tuesday-Thursday
The slumping Tigers are desperate to get things going in the right direction, and a sweep over the rival Indians would go a long way to keeping their head above water in the medicore Central division. They are 6 games back entering Tuesdays game, but the number that is concerning is one- the amount of games they are ahead of the last place Royals. The Tribe wont see Justin Verlander or Doug Fister, who was placed back on the 15 day DL with another injury to his side.
Seattle @ LA Angles, Thursday June 9th, Felix Hernandez vs. Albert Pujols
A superstar matchup that we will be seeing for years to come will again take place Thursday in Anaheim. Plus, if you havent seen Mike Trout play yet this is a great chance to see the future All-Star
Washington @ Boston, Friday-Sunday
It will be exicting to see how the Nats do aganist a slugging lineup like Boston. Gonzalez and Strasburg are both slated to face the Red Sox, which should be the perfect measuring stick matchup for a team that now has aspirations of winning the NL East.
Texas @ San Francisico, Friday-Sunday
A rematch of the 2010 World Series should be a bit more of a mismatch this time around. The Giants have had troubles scoring runs, while the Rangers can score in bunches at any point in the game. It’s easy for the Giants pitchings to shut down what is a light hitting NL West, so it’s fair to say this will be their biggest challenge so far this season.
Disagree with my top 3 duos? Have a different team that you think can heat up in June? Find me on twitter HERE.