Stats & Info: new york mets

Kernels: Capitol Gains

August, 24, 2014
Aug 24

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesThe Nationals won via walk-off five times this week.
Congress always takes an extra-long recess in August because Washington gets really hot in the summer. Our weekly look at the interesting and unusual in Major League Baseball concurs: Washington has been pretty hot in August.

After walk-off wins last weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals ran that streak to three with Adam LaRoche's 11th-inning homer on Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That gave the franchise just its second streak of three straight walk-offs, the other being July 26-28, 1988, against the Cubs and Cardinals (Mike Fitzgerald had two of those, one a pinch-hit grand slam). It was the team's first set of back-to-back walk-offs in the 11th or later since June 2009.

They weren't done. The Nats walked off twice more to close the Arizona series, with both game-ending hits by Anthony Rendon. In the process they became the first team with four walk-offs in five days since the Kansas City Royals did it from April 10-13, 2000 (Johnny Damon, Brian Johnson, Rey Sanchez, Carlos Beltran); and the first team with five in six days since the Houston Astros won five straight via walk-off from July 19-23, 1986.

Thursday's game was the franchise's first 1-0 win via walk-off since June 2011, and the first time they had won a game without an RBI since August 27, 1995. It was also the last in a 10-game win streak, tying the longest in the majors this year (Royals in June) and the longest in franchise history (last done in 2005).

"(R, Minnesota)"

No, not Republicans... runs. The Minnesota Twins piled up an MLB-season-high 20 in Friday's thumping of the Detroit Tigers. It was the team's highest run total since May 2009, and just the second time any team had scored 20 runs outdoors in Minneapolis. The Twins won a 20-11 slugfest with Oakland on April 27, 1980, at Metropolitan Stadium.

Five players scored three runs on Friday, the first time that's happened since the Cleveland Indians did it on April 18, 2009 (that's the game where they had a 14-run inning against the Yankees). The 20-6 game also came on the seventh anniversary of the Rangers' famous 30-3 win over the Orioles. (We predict a 10-9 game on August 22, 2021.)

Eduardo Escobar had five hits including a homer and a triple, the first player in the majors to do that this season, and just the second ever for Minnesota. Tim Teufel had two homers and a triple against Toronto on September 16, 1983. At the same time, Escobar committed two errors in the field, becoming (via Elias) the first player with five hits and two errors since Angel Berroa did it for the Royals in 2003.

Second baseman Andrew Romine pitched the ninth inning for Detroit, joining Danny Worth as Tigers position players to pitch this season. The last time the Tigers had two position players throw in the same year was in 1918. Player-manager Ty Cobb frequently put himself on the mound in the final game of the season if it didn't mean anything, and in that particular finale, left fielder Donny Veach relieved him.

Romine, for his part, gave up three runs including longballs by Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe. He's the first position player to give up two homers in a game since outfielder Dane Iorg of the Padres did it in an 18-1 loss against the Giants on June 23, 1986.

The Twins added 12 more in the day game of Saturday's doubleheader, their first time scoring 12+ in consecutive games since September 13, 2008, when they swept a doubleheader in Baltimore. The 32 combined runs in two games were three shy of the franchise record. The Tigers then won 13-4 on Sunday, their most runs scored in Minnesota since July 4, 1999 (won 15-5). The 73 total runs were the most in any four-game series in over two years.

"(d, New York)"

The New York Mets have cornered the market on small "D"s over the last couple years, with Travis d'Arnaud, Jacob deGrom, and Matt den Dekker all on the 25-man roster at some point this season. That already made the Mets the first team with three "lowercase" players on the roster at once, but thanks to callups, injuries, and deGrom being a pitcher who only plays every five days, the three had never appeared in a game together. That changed Saturday when all of them started against the Dodgers, the first trio of lowercase players ever to appear in the same boxscore.

AP Photo/Chris SzagolaMadison Bumgarner two-hit the Mets on Sunday for his second career shutout.
Entering Sunday’s game, Bartolo Colon was looking to make history for the New York Mets as they hosted the San Francisco Giants, going for his 200th career major league win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he would’ve been just the third pitcher to get his 200th win in a Mets uniform, joining Orel Hershiser and Pedro Martinez.

But it was Madison Bumgarner who stole the show, throwing a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts on just 94 pitches. It was Bumgarner’s second career shutout. He also one-hit the Reds back in June 2012.

Bumgarner’s shutout was very efficient. More than half of his pitches (55 percent) were fastballs, the highest percentage he’s had in an outing since the 2011 season. Mets hitters were 1-10 with four strikeouts and no hard-hit balls against his fastball.

He also threw nearly 80 percent (79.8) of his pitches for strikes. That’s the second-highest percentage he’s had in a game in his career. The highest came in a 2011 start in which he pitched just one-third of an inning.

Back on Friday, Ryan Vogelsong threw a two-hitter against the Mets in a win. According to Elias, this was just the third time a team has ever had two complete-game two-hitters or better in the same series against the Mets. The others were by the 1965 Dodgers (Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen) and the 1963 Dodgers (Koufax and Don Drysdale).

The Giants' offense also came alive in the game, putting up nine runs with four homers. The long ball has been lacking for San Francisco recently. Over their previous 10 games entering Sunday, the Giants mustered just two home runs, going 3-7 over that 10-game stretch while averaging 2.3 runs per game.

Hunter Pence had a pair of home runs for the Giants out of the leadoff spot. He’s the first Giant with a multi-home run game since Brandon Crawford did so back on May 4. He’s also just the second Giants leadoff hitter with a multi-HR game in the past five seasons, joining Nate Schierholtz.

Buster Posey added four hits and three RBIs for the Giants. Over his previous 10 games, he was just 8-for-34 with one RBI.

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Mets

May, 21, 2014
May 21
The New York Mets host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of a three-game set tonight (7 ET, ESPN). Here are some of the key storylines we will be following on "Wednesday Night Baseball."

Puig on a tear
Yasiel Puig has reached base safely in 21 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the majors behind Robinson Cano (27 games).

In that span, Puig is hitting .400, with 7 home runs, 26 RBIs and 12 walks.

Puig’s improved plate discipline is a major difference between this season and last. He has lowered his chase percentage more than any player in the league, and that percentage has decreased in every month of his career.

As a result, his walk percentage has gone up and his strikeout percentage has decreased from 2013 to this season.

Ryu returns
Hyun-Jin Ryu returns to the Dodgers' rotation after missing more than three weeks with shoulder inflammation. Before his injury, Ryu had a strong start to the season, allowing zero runs in four of his first five starts, which is one behind Adam Wainwright for the most scoreless starts in the majors this season.

Ryu’s ERA in 2014 and for his career is 3.00, which is the fifth-best by a left-handed starter since the start of last season.

His arrival, coupled with the return of Clayton Kershaw last week, puts the Dodgers' rotation at full strength and takes some pressure off their bullpen, which has thrown 158 innings, the most of any National League team this season.

This has started to take its toll, as their bullpen ERA this month is 5.03, third-worst in the majors.

DeGrom follows debut
Jacob deGrom was a hard-luck loser in his MLB debut on May 15, allowing one run in seven innings against the Yankees. He was the first Mets starter to lose his major league debut despite allowing only one run since Ron Darling on Sept. 6, 1983, against the Phillies.

DeGrom, who played both third base and shortstop in college, singled in his first career plate appearance, becoming the first Mets pitcher to get a hit this season after they started 0-for-64, a modern-day record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The rest of the Mets' pitching staff has yet to get a hit this season, going 0-for-71.

Top stats to know: Yankees at Mets

May, 14, 2014
May 14

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesMasahiro Tanaka has struck out 58 batters in his first seven starts.
The New York Yankees and New York Mets enter the third game of their four-game Subway Series (7 ET on ESPN) with identical 19-19 records, but the teams are heading in opposite directions. The Mets have won three in a row while the Yankees have lost a season-high four straight games.

All eyes will be on the two young starting pitchers, so let’s take a deeper look at Masahiro Tanaka and Rafael Montero.

Tanaka Time
When the Yankees signed Tanaka to a 7-year, $155 million contract this offseason, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman tried to temper expectations for the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher by saying he would be a “really solid, consistent No. 3 starter”.

Fortunately for the Yankees (who have seen three-fifths of their opening day rotation go on the disabled list), Tanaka has been the team’s ace so far this season, going 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 58 strikeouts in his first seven starts.

Tanaka’s ability to get batters to swing at pitches out of the zone is a key part of his success.

Despite throwing fewer pitches in the strike zone than all but four qualified starters, Tanaka still ranks in the top 10 in strike rate because of his MLB-best chase percentage of 42 percent.

The splitter is his signature put-away pitch, throwing it almost half the time with two strikes.

Of the 95 two-strike splitters he has thrown, more than one-third (33) have resulted in strike three. Those 33 strikeouts via the splitter are nearly twice as many as any other pitcher in the majors.

Tanaka’s splitter was literally unhittable during a three-game stretch from April 16-27. During those three outings, he threw 79 splitters, which netted 29 outs and just one baserunner (a walk to Chris Iannetta on April 27).

The Mets have faced only a handful of pitchers that feature a split-fingered fastball this season. In a small sample, they have not fared well with one hit and four strikeouts in 18 at-bats (.056 BA).

Montero’s Debut
For the Mets, highly-regarded prospect Rafael Montero will make his major-league debut Wednesday night, becoming the first Mets pitcher to start in the Subway Series in his MLB debut.

Montero will look to keep a Mets streak going. Each of the last three starters to make his major-league debut for the team has not allowed a run. Matt Harvey, Collin McHugh and Zack Wheeler combined for 18⅓ scoreless innings in their respective starts over the last two seasons.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets are the only team in the modern era (since 1900) to have a streak of three straight pitchers whose MLB debut was a scoreless start of at least five innings pitched.

Montero had a 2.63 ERA and 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 72 minor league appearances (67 starts), including a 3.67 ERA in eight minor league starts this season.

Perhaps most impressive is that he’s allowed only 19 home runs in 390 career minor-league innings. Also, in every one of his professional seasons, he has received a promotion. In other words, he’s never stayed at one level for even one whole season.

Mets, D-Backs repeat history on the 4th

July, 4, 2013

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
David Aardsma was pulled after walking in a run in the 13th, setting a crazy finish in motion.

The Diamondbacks beat the Mets 5-4 in 15 innings Thursday afternoon in a game that featured more runs in extra innings than the first nine.

It was a wild way to celebrate Independence Day, but it’s not the first time the Mets were involved in fireworks on the 4th of July.

History Repeats Itself

The Mets hit two game-tying home runs in extra innings Thursday, a solo shot by Anthony Recker in the 13th inning and a solo shot by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 14th.

The last time a team hit a pair of game-tying home runs in the 13th inning or later was 28 years ago to the day, when the Mets beat the Braves 16-13 in 19 innings.

In that game, however, it was the Braves who twice tied the game with a 13th inning home run by Terry Harper and an 18th inning home run by pitcher Rick Camp.

Adding to the similarities, both Camp and Nieuwenhuis made the final outs of the game an inning after tying the game up.

Nieuwenhuis’ game-tying home run in the 14th Thursday matched the latest into a game that the Mets have hit a game-tying home run. Ken Singleton in 1971 and Todd Hundley in 1991 previously had hit game-tying 14th inning home runs for the Mets.

Pennington and D-Backs Love Extras

Cliff Pennington was able to put the Diamondbacks up for good Thursday in the 15th inning with an RBI single, his first RBI since June 15th.

Pennington now has a league-leading eight hits in extra innings this season (8-for-11). It was also the second time this season Pennington recorded a game-winning RBI in extras, something he failed to do his first five seasons in the major leagues.

The Diamondbacks improved to 10-3 in extra-inning games this season, the most such wins in the majors.

Game of Firsts for Roe

Diamondbacks rookie Chaz Roe pitched only one of the 15 innings, but picked up two career firsts in the process. After recording his first major league blown save in the 14th inning, Pennington’s single would ultimately give Roe his first major league win.

Breaking balls key for Wainwright, Harvey

June, 13, 2013

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Adam Wainwright will look for his 10th win of the season Thursday against Matt Harvey and the Mets.

Thursday afternoon, two of the early National League Cy Young favorites go head-to-head as Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals face rookie Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

Wainwright has finished in the top three of the NL Cy Young voting twice but is on pace for the best season of his career.

He has 91 strikeouts and just seven walks in 96 innings pitched and is on pace to set the Modern Era record (since 1900) for K-to-BB ratio (13.0), set by Bret Saberhagen (11.0) in 1994.

It’s more than twice as good as the next-closest starter this season, Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (6.2 K-to-BB).

Last season Wainwright ranked 35th among starters in walk rate, issuing just 52 free passes in 32 starts. At his current pace this season, he'd need to pitch 713 innings and make 96 starts before he walked his 52nd hitter.

How Wainwright is Doing It
We know that Wainwright's curveball is one of the best weapons in the game, with the fifth-biggest vertical break among starting pitchers this season (9.5 inches).

But he mixes things up, not relying on one pitch. When he was at ESPN this week, Wainwright told us that he works hard to avoid falling into a pattern. And he’s done a good job of that this season.

He’s thrown curveballs at least 30 percent of the time in three of his starts, and fewer than 21 percent in five others.

Three times, he’s thrown changeups at least 10 percent of the time, but in three others he hasn’t even thrown one.

Another thing he told us is that he’s throwing his cutter harder this season and the numbers back that up. His cutter is maxing out at 92.2 MPH this season, up from 91.0 last season.

And with that, the effectiveness of the pitch has increased greatly. Opponents are hitting almost 90 points lower against his cutter this season and are swinging-and-missing almost twice as often against it.

Primetime Matchup
Opposing Wainwright for the Mets will be the young phenom Harvey. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 starts this season (only three pitchers have more).

But has the league started to figure him out?

His ERA and opponents’ batting average has risen each month this season -- it's early in June but in two starts he has a 3.75 ERA and opponents are hitting .340 against him.

Harvey's heat can join Gooden, Pedro

April, 24, 2013

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey is averaging almost 95 MPH on his fastball this season.

When Matt Harvey climbs the mound tonight against the Dodgers (7 ET on ESPN), he'll attempt to become the third pitcher in Mets history to go 5-0 or better in the month of April.

The company he'll attempt to join has four Cy Young awards and more than 5,400 career strikeouts between them: Dwight Gooden, who did it in 1988, and Pedro Martinez (2006).

It starts with the fastball...
Harvey is averaging almost 95 MPH on his fastball this season, second in the majors among qualified starters.

Incredibly, the top three in that category all play in the NL East and all three are under 25 years old: Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez.

The fastball has been Harvey's strikeout pitch. He's racked up 19 strikeouts from the fastball alone this season, second in the majors to only Shelby Miller.

And Harvey has shown the ability to ramp up the velocity as the situations get tougher.

With the bases empty, his average fastball velocity is 94.6 MPH. With runners in scoring positions and two outs, he's bumped that average velocity to 95.5 MPH.

In his last start, Friday against Strasburg, Harvey had some of his best heat. His average fastball sat at 97.2 MPH.

...and sets up the changeup...
That fastball really sets up the changeup, which averages 86.3 MPH, a difference of more than eight MPH from his average fastball.

Only seven starters have a bigger difference between their average fastball and changeup. go with a hard slider
And his slider is nearly as devastating.

Harvey's slider averages 88.8 MPH this season, the fastest average slider among all starters. Harvey's slider has been thrown harder than James Shields' or Madison Bumgarner's slider.

Batters are just 1-19 in at-bats ending against Harvey's slider this season, striking out on it an astonishing 41 percent of the time.

It's the highest strikeout rate of any of his pitches, with the fastball second and the changeup third.

Key matchups against the Dodgers
Carl Crawford is hitting .385 (5-13) with a .923 OPS against changeups this season.

Crawford is having early success this season by laying off pitches outside the strike zone. His chase rate is down to 20 percent this season after hovering in the mid-30s in each of the last four seasons.

Likewise, Matt Kemp is hitting .375 (3-8) with an .875 OPS against changeups this season, his best numbers against any pitch. Overall, Kemp is batting .247 with an OPS of .594 this April.

That's a steep decline from last April when he batted .417 with a 1.383 OPS.

Harvey, Halladay a matchup for the ages

April, 8, 2013

USA TODAY SportsMatt Harvey and Roy Halladay both have something to prove tonight in the Mets-Phillies game.
New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are headed in opposite directions after the first week of the season, with the Mets riding high following their 4-2 start and the Phillies sliding after losing four of their first six games.

A fast start out of the gate is nothing new for the Mets. Over the last three seasons, the Mets have won 53 percent of their games before the All-Star break and just 40 percent after the break.

The Phillies slow start is potentially troublesome as they are coming off their worst season in recent history. Last year’s 81-81 record was the first time the Phillies failed to finish above .500 since an 80-81 campaign in 2002.

For the Mets, there is hope tonight with their future ace, Matt Harvey, on the mound. The Phillies counter with their former ace, Roy Halladay, who is hoping to rebound from arguably his worst season in more than a decade.

Let’s take a look at each starter in the spotlight tonight.

Matt Harvey
The 24-year-old Harvey made his major-league debut on July 26th last season and he immediately became one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league. His strikeout rate of 30 percent is best among National League starters in that span.

He has used an overpowering fastball to dominate hitters, getting more than half of his strikeouts via the heater.

His average fastball velocity of 94.7 MPH and his 23 percent miss per swing rate with the pitch both rank fourth among starters since his debut last season (minimum 600 pitches).

Harvey’s fastball is not the only weapon in his pitching arsenal. Hitters have also had a hard time squaring up his slider.

Of the 29 sliders put in play against Harvey in his career, only five have been classified by Inside Edge as “well-hit” and only four have dropped in for hits. Overall, Harvey has held batters to a .091 batting average in at-bats ending with his slider.

Roy Halladay
Velocity watch is in full effect for the 35-year-old Halladay. He has seen the average speed of his fastball (sinkers/fastballs/cutters) drop in each of the past three seasons; however, he hasn’t lost his ability to miss bats as evidenced by nine strikeouts in his first start.

So what’s the big deal with velocity? It’s subtle, but as fastball velocity increases, so do swing and miss percentage and groundball rate.

Since 2011, hitters have batted .261 on at-bats ending with a 94 MPH fastball versus batting .300 against an 87 MPH fastball.

Another issue for Halladay in 2012 was the decline in his ability to get groundballs. Halladay's groundball rate last year was his lowest (45 percent) since the stat was first tracked in 2002.

He’ll try to get back on track tonight against a Mets team that he has dominated during his time with the Phillies. Halladay is 7-0 with a 1.78 ERA and 58 strikeouts in eight starts vs New York since 2010.

Wright's revival pays off, but was it real?

November, 30, 2012

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
David Wright's performance over the last few seasons has been up and down, but the Mets still rewarded him with reportedly the richest contract in team history.

According to sources, the New York Mets and third baseman David Wright have agreed to a deal that would be the largest in team history, surpassing the six-year, $137.5M contract given to Johan Santana.

He joins Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman as third basemen to recently receive contracts of at least $100M to stay with their original clubs.

But now the question shifts to whether Wright will be able to live up to that contract.

Wright is arguably the Mets' greatest position player ever. He’s already the franchise all-time leader in runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and wins above replacement.

He also brings a unique blend of speed, power and on-base ability to the hot corner. Wright has had six seasons with at least 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .350 OBP. In the Live Ball Era (since 1920), that’s the most such seasons by a third baseman, with Alex Rodriguez in second with five, and Mike Schmidt third with four.

Last season, Wright put himself in the MVP discussion with 6.7 wins above replacement, ranking him fourth in the National League among position players.

However, despite his resurgence in 2012, Wright’s performance has still dropped in the last four seasons, compared to 2005-08, his first four full seasons in the majors, when Wright’s average season was a .311 BA, 29 HR and 112 RBIs. The chart at the right shows how his performance has dipped since his breakout.

Even last season, Wright’s performance dropped off considerably after the All-Star Break.

In the first half of the season, Wright had a .351 BA and a 1.004 OPS. But after the break, Wright batted .258 with a .750 OPS, and saw both his strikeout rate rise and his walk rate drop.

The biggest reason for the drop in performance was Wright’s propensity for chasing pitches out of the strike zone. In the first half, Wright chased 18 percent of pitches out of the strike zone, but that number grew to 25 percent in the second half.

Still, his 6.7 WAR over the entire season tied him for seventh in all of baseball among position players, and was the third time in his career that he had a WAR at least that high.
However, in the three seasons preceding 2012, Wright’s WAR was a 2.9 or lower, ranking him outside the top 75 position players in all of baseball.

Wright's deal will reportedly keep him in a Mets uniform through at least 2020, but what Wright will be on the field remains in question.

US PresswireCarlos Ruiz tags out Norichika Aoki to save a run in the Phillies 7-6 win over the Brewers.
The Philadelphia Phillies had little to celebrate at Citizens Bank Park this season, with a 19-29 home record that ranked last in the NL entering Tuesday. But they found some magic against the Milwaukee Brewers again tonight, scoring six runs in the eighth inning to rally from a season-high five-run deficit in the 7-6 win.

This was the second consecutive game that the Phillies won after trailing by three or more runs in the eighth inning or later. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they had done that only once before in franchise history, with a pair of walk-off wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Baker Bowl in August 1899.

Carlos Ruiz had a three-run, bases-clearing double to tie the score at 6-6. The last Phillies player with a bases-loaded, game-tying double in the eighth inning or later at home was Ron Gant in 1999 against the Atlanta Braves.

Hunter Pence followed Ruiz with the game-winning single for his team-leading fifth go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later this season. The rest of the Phillies have combined for only four such hits in 2012.

Zack Greinke did his best to keep the Brewers in the game with both his arm and his bat. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball and allowed just three hits, bouncing back after starting the month with a 9.00 ERA in his first four July starts.

Greinke worked the bottom of the strike zone, throwing sixty percent of his pitches in the lower third of the zone or below. The Phillies were hitless in 13 at-bats ending in a pitch to that location, including all five of his strikeouts.

Good news for Brewers fans is that Greinke appears to have put his road woes in the past.

He is 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA in his last eight starts away from Miller Park, a far cry from the 7.03 ERA he posted in his first five road starts this season.

Greinke also chipped in at the plate with his third career home run. It was the first time Cliff Lee allowed a homer to an opposing pitcher in his career.

Speaking of Lee, he was lucky to not get a loss in this game. He allowed 12 hits and four homers, matching his career-highs in both stats. Three of the four longballs came on the first pitch, becoming the first pitcher this season to allow three first-pitch homers in the same game.

National Treasure
The Washington Nationals improved to 8-3 versus the New York Mets this season, as Gio Gonzalez (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H) earned his 13th win. Gonzalez fell behind 14 hitters 1-0 but battled back to retire 11 of them, allowing only one hit.

The Mets’ post-break slide continues as they have now dropped 11 of their last 12 games. R.A. Dickey (6 IP, 4 ER) lost for the first time in his last 17 starts, also snapping his 11-game win streak. He has a 6.49 ERA in July after posting a 2.15 ERA in the first three months of the season.

Jordany Valdespin tried to rally the Mets with his MLB-leading fifth pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning. The five pinch-hit homers are a Mets single-season record and two shy of the major-league record shared by Dave Hansen (2000 Dodgers) and Craig Wilson (2001 Pirates).

Hitters making fast work of Santana's heater

July, 21, 2012

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesJohan Santana didn't reach the 4th inning against the Dodgers Friday.
Less than two months after he earned a permanent spot in New York Mets lore by throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history, Johan Santana tied a more dubious team mark on Friday.

Santana joined Pedro Astacio in 2002 and Bobby Jones in 1995 as the only Mets pitchers to ever allow at least 6 earned runs in 3 straight outings after giving up 6 runs over 3 innings in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since throwing the Mets initial no-hitter on June 1, Santana is now 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA in 8 starts.

Santana’s fastball has let him down over that span. Opposing hitters are batting .323 against Santana’s heater in his last 8 starts, in large part because he’s having serious trouble locating the pitch. 52 percent of Santana’s fastballs have been in the strike zone since his no-hitter, compared to the one-third of Santana’s fastballs that found the zone against the Cardinals on June 1.

If there was an opponent that was likely to snap Santana out of his post-no-hitter struggles, the Dodgers were a good bet. Entering Friday, Santana was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in 5 career starts vs the Dodgers, the lowest ERA vs the Dodgers of any pitcher with at least 5 starts against the team in the live ball era (since 1920).

Elsewhere in the majors Friday:

• The Atlanta Braves overcame a 9-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Atlanta’s 9-run comeback ties a franchise record also accomplished in 1987 vs the San Diego Padres and 1977 vs the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals 9-run blown lead is the largest in team history, including the franchise’s years in Montreal.

• Jim Thome’s 4th-inning home run vs the Cleveland Indians was the 610th of his career, breaking a tie with Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time HR list. Next up for Thome is Ken Griffey Jr. at 630.

• Robinson Cano now owns the longest hit streak in the majors this season after his 7th-inning single vs the Oakland Athletics extended his hit streak to 23 games, one more than Michael Brantley’s streak earlier this year. Cano’s streak is the longest by a Yankee in a single season since Derek Jeter in 2006 (25 games).

• Justin Verlander allowed 2 runs in 8 innings in a win against the Chicago White Sox. Verlander has now pitched at least 6 innings in 62 straight starts, breaking a tie with Catfish Hunter for the third-longest streak in the live ball era. Verlander is 11-1 in 12 starts vs the White Sox since 2009, tied for the highest win percentage (.917) for a pitcher against a single opponent over the last 4 seasons according to the Elias Sports Bureau (minimum 10 decisions).

Zimmermann looks to 'control' Mets bats

July, 18, 2012

Greg Fiume/Getty ImagesThe Nationals earned their NL-leading eighth walk-off win of the season against the Mets on Tuesday.
Currently mired in a season-long five-game losing streak, the Mets take on the Nationals on Wednesday Night Baseball (7 ET, ESPN). The Mets entered the day seven games back of Washington in the National League East and only two games above .500 for the first time since May 21.

The Mets are 0-4 since the All-Star break, again struggling in the second half. In each of the previous three seasons, they have experienced drops in win percentage after the break.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Nationals are an NL-best 52-36, have won seven of their past nine home games, and celebrated their NL-leading eighth walk-off win against the Mets on Tuesday night. They are tied with the Athletics for most walk-off wins in baseball this season.


Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nationals on Wednesday, and despite his 6-6 record, has been one of the most effective pitchers in the National League this season. Zimmermann ranks fourth among qualified NL starters in ERA (2.48) and leads all of MLB with 16 quality starts.
Jordan Zimmermann
One reason for Zimmermann’s success has been his control. He ranks seventh in the league in walks per nine innings (1.8), third in overall strike percentage (68 percent) and second in first-pitch strike percentage (70 percent).

While the Nationals' rotation has gotten much attention, there is no shortage of discussion about rookie outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper ranks among the top five rookies in baseball in batting average (.275), extra-base hits (28) and stolen bases (11). His five triples lead the Nationals.


For the Mets, Chris Young will make his eighth start of the season after making a total of eight starts over the previous two seasons combined. Young spent a total of 329 days on the disabled list with shoulder problems between 2010 and 2011 but has remained healthy thus far in 2012.
Chris Young
Young has pitched well against Washington. He is 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA in seven starts against the Nationals and current members of the Nats are hitting only .165 against him. Should that continue Wednesday night, he’ll need to locate his fastball. Only Barry Zito (83.6 mph) has a slower average fastball velocity than Young (84.2 mph) this season.

David Wright has been the most consistent hitter in the Mets' lineup this season and he’s done it by hitting to the opposite field.

Wright has collected 30.0 percent of his hits to right field in 2012 after only 19.6 percent of his hits went that way the previous three seasons. The approach helped Wright reach the All-Star break with the second highest batting average in Mets history (.351).

Dale Zanine/US PresswireBen Sheets allowed no runs in six innings on Sunday to pick up his first win in more than two years.
His last win came more than two years ago, but Ben Sheets showed Sunday he can still be dominant. Three days before his 34th birthday, Sheets tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits in the Atlanta Braves' 6-1 win over the New York Mets and Johan Santana. It was his first win since July 10, 2010 when he was with the Oakland A's. In Sheets' last win, he also went six innings and allowed two hits and no runs in a game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Sheets missed the entire 2009 and 2011 seasons since turning 30 in 2008. He was the third pitcher in the past 15 years to start a game in the majors at age 30 or older after twice missing a full season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others were Scott Erickson, after missing the 2001 and 2003 seasons, and Bret Saberhagen, who missed the 1996 and 2000 seasons.

Mets hitters went 1-for-9 with three strikeouts against Sheets' fastball, and 1-for-9 with two strikeouts against his curve. Sheets used both as out pitches; of 21 two-strike pitches, 11 were curves and 10 were fastballs. Counting strikeouts, Sheets got eight outs with each pitch.

Sheets wasn't the only pitcher to go at least six innings and not allow a run on Sunday. 2012 All-Stars Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander and Matt Harrison also dominated.

• Strasburg also went six innings, allowed no runs and struck out seven in a 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins. It was the third straight start in which Strasburg went exactly six innings and allowed no runs against Miami. In fact, Strasburg has blanked the Marlins in four of his six career starts while going six innings in each. Strasburg has thrown 105 innings this season and the Nationals have maintained he will be capped at 160 innings pitched.

Justin Verlander
• Meanwhile, Justin Verlander had a far better outing than he did in the All-Star Game, as he improved to 7-0 in his career against the Baltimore Orioles. Verlander won his 10th game by allowing just three hits in eight innings and striking out eight.

Four pitchers have started and allowed 5-plus runs in the All-Star Game, and three of them went on to allow no runs in their next start, including Verlander. Tom Glavine in 1992 and Jim Palmer in 1977 are the others.

• Matt Harrison recorded his second shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the Mariners. Harrison had two career shutouts entering this season.

Four different pitchers have thrown complete-game shutouts and allowed five hit or fewer against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field this season, including Harrison. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 1998 Montreal Expos were the last team to have that happen to them at home four times through July 15.

Jered Weaver
• Although Jered Weaver struggled Sunday allowing 10 hits, five earned runs and three home runs to the New York Yankees, he still managed to win and improve to 11-1 this season. Weaver was the first pitcher since Bronson Arroyo in 2009 and the first Los Angeles Angels pitcher since Geoff Zahn in 1981 to post those numbers and still win.

Alex Rodriguez took Weaver deep for his sixth home run (including the playoffs) off the Angels righty, most of any player.

In all, seven starting pitchers who played in the All-Star Game started on Sunday, and all ended up winning.

Wainwright gets curve straightened out

July, 13, 2012

Getty ImagesMat Latos and Adam Wainwright start tonight when the Reds and Cardinals renew their rivalry.
Baseball is back as the second half of the major-league season kicks off today with a full slate of games. It’s never too early to start predicting division races, and this weekend provides us with several key divisional matchups that could separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Cardinals at Reds
The St. Louis Cardinals start the second half on a roll, with 11 wins in their last 16 games. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, are just 9-11 since gaining a four-game division lead on June 17, and last week fell into second place in the NL Central.

Tonight’s starter, Adam Wainwright, has a 3.62 ERA over his last 10 starts since starting the season with a 6.16 ERA in his first seven starts. Opponents have a .474 OPS in at-bats ending in his curveballl in his last 10 starts, after posting a .643 mark to start the season.

Mat Latos gets the ball tonight for the home team. One of the hottest pitchers going into the break, he’s allowed just two runs over 25 innings (0.72 ERA) in his last three starts. However, he has been awful against the Cardinals in his career. His 11.37 ERA in four starts is easily his worst versus any team.

Mets at Braves
Only a half game separates these two NL East rivals in the wild card race. The New York Mets have won four of six games versus the Atlanta Braves this year, but the Braves took the last two matchups after dropping the first four. The Mets have won season series just once in the last 15 years (2006).

Chris Young hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his first six starts this season and has walked just eight batters in 37 innings. However, his 7.50 ERA in five career starts versus Atlanta is his highest against any NL team.

Tim Hudson owns a 3.56 ERA this season but his sinker has not been as sharp this year. Opponents are hitting .260 in at-bats ending in the pitch, his worst mark over the last four seasons.

Location seems to be the problem; just 43 percent of his sinkers have been thrown in the lower third of the zone or below this season, compared to 57 percent from 2009-11.

Red Sox at Rays
The Boston Red Sox enter the second half at 43-43, the first time they failed to win 50 games before the break since 2005.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that streak of six straight seasons (2006-11) of at least 50 pre-break wins was the longest current streak in the majors.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Boston, who has the toughest remaining schedule among all teams. Their post-break opponents have a .530 winning percentage.

The Tampa Bay Rays are only a half-game back in the wild card standings but have not been playing well the past month.

They are just 10-16 since improving to 35-25 on June 10. The only AL team with a worse record during that span is the Seattle Mariners (9-16).

Stat of the Day
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that since 2001, only 54 percent of major-league teams in first place at the All-Star break (alone or tied) went on to win their divisions.

Lincecum goes offspeed to finish off sweep

June, 27, 2012

US PresswireTim Lincecum tossed seven scoreless innings as the Giants completed a historic sweep of the Dodgers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers now have company atop the NL West after the San Francisco Giants swept their in-state rivals to move into a tie for the division lead.

The Giants held the Dodgers without a run in each of the three games, marking the first time the Giants swept a series with three shutouts since April 1954 over the Philadelphia Phillies. It was also the first time the Giants have held the Dodgers scoreless over three straight games in franchise history.

It is the first time ever that the Dodgers have been shut out in a series sweep of three-or-more games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The three consecutive scoreless games matches the longest such streak by a Dodgers team in the last 100 years, most recently done in 2007.

The Dodgers have not enjoyed their recent visits to the Bay area. The Giants sweep comes just a week after the Dodgers were swept by the Oakland Athletics across the bay. The Dodgers were outscored 24-2 in losing all six games.

The Giants are also the third team in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to throw a shutout in each game of a three-game series sweep versus an opponent that was in first place at the start of the series, according to Elias.

The others to do this were the 1974 Baltimore Orioles over the first-place Boston Red Sox, and the 2010 New York Mets over the first-place Phillies.

Tim Lincecum had perhaps his best start of the season, throwing seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to snap a career-worst 10-start winless streak. Lincecum relied on his offspeed pitches to put away the Dodgers, throwing his fastball just 41 percent of the time, his second-lowest rate this season.

The Dodgers were 2-for-14 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with an offspeed pitch, and missed on 17-of-33 swings against an offspeed pitch. It is the first time this season an opponent has missed on over half its swings against Lincecum's offspeed offerings.

Around the Diamond
• The Mets snapped their four-game losing streak and avoided a series sweep by the Chicago Cubs with a 17-1 blowout win. The 16-run differential matched the second-biggest margin of victory in Mets history.

Four different Mets had at least four RBI, matching the most players with four-or-more RBI in a single game since RBI became official in 1920. It had been done three times previously and most recently by the Texas Rangers in a 30-3 win over the Orioles in 2007.

• Jose Bautista hit his major-league-leading 13th homer in June in the Toronto Blue Jays’ loss to the Red Sox, setting the franchise record for homers in a month. The last player to hit at least 13 home runs in June was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998.

• The New York Yankees completed a sweep of the Cleveland Indians, but lost Andy Pettitte for at least six weeks after he was hit by a line drive and broke his fibula. Pettitte’s 3.22 ERA is the best among the Yankee starting pitchers this season. It is also his second-best season ERA as Yankee, behind a 2.88 mark in 1997.