If there is a tougher cookie in all of baseball than Johan Santana, it's hard to imagine. From the set in his eyes to his demeanor and to his results, his body language and his work suggest that the pitcher refuses to be beaten. The Mets may be a mess, but Santana is a rock.
The Fan apologizes for all this hyperbole, but in Santana's case, it really isn't. He has now made six starts for the Mets (including Wednesday night) and has given up four earned runs. Amazingly, he's only won four of those starts. In his second start of the year, he was nearly unhittable giving up only two hits in seven innings against the Marlins and he struck out 13. But errors by Murphy and Castillo cost him two unearned runs and he lost to Josh Johnson, the Marlins' ace.
In his fifth start of the season, he again faced Josh Johnson and gave up a season high two earned runs. But he left the game with a one run lead after seven strong innings. Putz blew the game in the eighth, costing Santana the victory. But Wednesday night against the Phillies, he was amazing.
He was matched up with Chan Ho Park in a matchup that seemed to all be in Santana's favor. But Park pitched like a man fighting for his rotation spot and one hit the Mets through six innings, matching Santana, who had only given up two hits. But the Phillies lifted Park after the sixth and things got ugly in the field for the Phillies. The only run of the game scored on an air mail throw by Felix Pie. Scott Ayre was the hard luck loser.
So now, after six starts, Santana has pitched 39.2 innings. He's only given up 24 hits and twelve walks. His WHIP is well under 1, which is not unusual for Santana as he has done that three times already in his career. He's already struck out 54 batters. Heck, that's only a 12.5 strike out per nine innings and a 4.5 to 1 strike out to walk ratio. Pretty good huh?
The Fan is willing to admit that he was wrong about Santana going to the Yankees last year. The Fan felt at the time that the price was too high, giving up top talent AND having to sign a long term deal with the pitcher. Maybe the price was too high and Sabathia was the better way to go since they still spent the money and kept the prospects. But even so, looking at the current Yankee situation, Santana would be that nice horse you need every fifth day. Sabathia was a warrior for the Brewers down the stretch last year, but he's had a rough start. Santana has never had a rough start. He's just simply one of the best in the game and has been for years.
Santana is now an amazing 113-52 in his career, a .684 winning percentage. He hasn't missed a start in six years. He's won the ERA title three times. He's led the league in strike outs three times. He's got a lifetime WHIP of 1.099. He's struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings for his career.
He has just been amazing and he's not a big guy. He's only six foot and 189 pounds. Yet, he has the will of a ten footer and he is ferocious. For those of us able to watch his starts via the magic of today's media, enjoy. They don't come any better than Johan Santana.