Midseason Analysis: Tom Glavine
First Half Analysis
Tom at times has been terrific, working quickly and efficiently while pitching to contact, yet also having a fun time striking out young, inexperienced hitters lunging out on their front foot. He throws his fastball at two speeds, his change-up at two more, and occasionally rides in a cutter to take the inside part of the plate from righthanders. About once a game, he’ll also show a big curve to keep batters honest.
In the end, though, it’s all about location, and the width of the home plate umpire’s strike zone. There is no doubt that QuesTec is the worst thing to happen to the guile Glavine’s career, but he’s done a decent job of adjusting. Still, it’s crucial that he get the borderline calls — which seem to be tougher to coax out of specific umps.
After the first two weeks of April, it appeared that Glavine might reach win #300 before the All-Star break. But he ran into a string of tough losses despite well-pitched games, and is hanging at 297 after another no-decision in Houston.
With all the excitement around the masterful performances of Oliver Perez, El Duque, and Jorge Sosa, the key to the Mets’ success has been the consistent stability and innings-eating ability of Glavine and John Maine — neither of which have missed a start. Glavine has pitched into the sixth inning or further in all but two of his starts — back-to-back hiccups against American League monster lineups (Tigers and Yankees). Since he doesn’t have to pitch against a lineup with a DH again this year (until, hopefully, late October), we can surmise that he’ll continue that streak of quality starts through the second half. It’s true — he’s an NL-only pitcher at this stage of his career, and will pitch around the middle of the order to get to the weaker bats when necessary.
Glavine needs to re-discover the double plays that helped him out of many jams early in the season, but more importanly, must get 300 out of his head. His ERA is 4.36 — on pace to be the highest since his initial disappointing season with New York in 2003 — and he’s too proud to leave it up there. He’ll need to continue to pound the inside part of the plate, and mix in his curve more frequently to find success in the second half. If Glavine can find a way to get to 300 before mid-August and get the monkey off his back, he’ll finish with a flourish — just in time for the stretch run. He’s not the most spectacular pitcher in the NL, and at this point a shell of his former self, but he’s still the Mets’ most solid choice as #1 postseason starter — assuming Pedro doesn’t come back or comes back at less than 80%.