The New York Mets swept the Cleveland Indians on Thursday as they won seven straight heading into their weekend series with the New York Yankees. The Mets are playing some of the best baseball in the majors and getting contributions from many young players. Their rotation has been key in this June surge, so let’s take a look at how the starters fared against The Tribe and how their key metrics are trending.
Johan Santana recorded his fifth win of the season on Wednesday, though once again he did so by getting outs via balls in play as he only struck out one. Johan Santana’s k/9 has dropped to below 6 for the first time this season. He’s starting to give up home runs, which for the first third of the season, seemed to be the metric keeping his era respectable. He’s still pitching well for a pitcher who isn’t striking anyone out, and his fly ball tendencies haven’t gotten him into too much trouble yet. His hr/fb% is still 4 points below his career average. His xFIP sits at an ugly 4.71 and sooner or later his fly balls are going to turn into home runs. A sub 6 k/9 and an elevated walk rate is not a pretty combo for a fly ball pitcher. Concern is definitely warranted.
Jonathon Niese followed up his complete game performance with another strong outing, going 7 innings and striking out 3. He induced 8 ground ball outs and 8 fly ball outs and is continuing to impress without huge strikeout totals. He improved to 4-2 on the season, as trade rumors whirl about Seattle’s interest in him as they look to find a suitor with available cash for Cliff Lee. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets decide to do, since their true ace Santana, is clearly on the decline. Like Mike Pelfrey, Niese induces 50% ground balls, and in a large ballpark his value is even greater as the fly balls he does give up yield home runs well below the league average. Niese’s babip has stabilized a bit, after being the high 3s for the first two months of the season, and it still has room to regress towards the league average.
R.A. Dickey perpetuated the Mets win streak, and his own, as he improved to 5-0 and his young season. He’s seeing success by limiting balls into play with a 7.28 k/9 which is significantly higher than his 5.65 career mark. He also has improved his ground ball rate about 4% points this season, as his gb% is an impressive 50.8%. He has been stranding runners at a clip of 80% which is bound to regress, though his babip of .342 has room to regress too. The Mets have to keep handing Dickey the ball, no matter what happens when John Maine and Oliver Perez return from their DL stints.