Murray Chass, of the NY Times, says that, “Santana leads the league in earned run average (2.62), strikeouts (260) and opponents’ batting average (.193). But he doesn’t just lead; he leads by a lot.
Schilling has the next-lowest E.R.A., 3.26. Pedro Martínez is second in strikeouts with 222 and Schilling third with 203. Ted Lilly has the next lowest opponents’ batting average, .231, followed by Martínez at .232 and Schilling at .239.”
That’s dominance that hasn’t been seen in a long time, and it should ensure that Schilling will be bridesmaid for the fourth time in his career. John Harper, of the NY Daily News, compares Santana to Orel Hershiser, circa 1988.
“Sixteen years later, Orel Hershiser is still the ultimate example of a just how far a hot pitcher can carry an otherwise average ballclub, so perhaps the Yankees should know that a veteran major league scout raised Hershiser’s name yesterday in trying to find the right context in which to put Johan Santana’s current brilliance.
“It’s that kind of dominance,” the scout said. “Off the charts. I can’t remember anyone in this kind of zone since Hershiser in ’88.”
Mets fans remember the year. During the season, Hershiser set a major league record by throwing 59 consecutive scoreless innings, and then he pitched the underdog Dodgers past two superior teams, the Mets and A’s, to win a world championship….
…. Santana came in a hot pitcher last year too, but nothing like what he has done this season. His overall numbers of 20-6 with a 2.62 ERA should be impressive enough to beat out Curt Schilling for the Cy Young Award, but they don’t begin to tell of his dominance over the last four months.
On June 3, Santana was 1-5 with a 5.50 ERA, mostly because he was feeling his way back from offseason elbow surgery to remove bone chips, tentative about throwing his slider and searching for the right feel on his best pitch, his change-up.
But then everything fell into place, and in 21 starts since then, Santana is 18-2 with a 1.34 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 154-1/3 innings. The scores of the two losses, by the way, were 2-1 and 2-0 as Santana gave up a combined five hits.
Since the All-Star break, Santana is 13-0, and had a 33-inning scoreless streak snapped in a 6-2 win over the Indians Friday.
Damn. I was in NY at the time, when the Dodgers beat the Mets on the strength of Hershiser’s overwhelming brilliance. If Santana is in that kind of groove, and it sure looks like he is, then the Yankees are in trouble. Big trouble. The Yankees are facing the very real possibility of facing the Twin in a five-game, first round series, and with the way their staff has been performing of late, ooh boy.
As if having an overall team ERA of 4.73 isn’t bad enough, with no Clemens, Wells, or Pettitte, a matchup featuring at least two of five games against a shutout waiting to happen is a recipe for disaster for the most expensive team in baseball history.
As for Santana, it bears mentioning that the great Aaron Gleeman has been hyping Santana for going on two years now, even back when the Twins weren’t so sure about the young pitcher. Aaron’s astute analysis assured him that Santana was the real thing, something that should bode well considering his desire to be a GM.