Through the first two months of the 2009 season, Johan Santana was — hands-down — the best pitcher on the planet. In fact, his first ten starts were the stuff of legend, and one of the most auspicious beginnings to a season for any pitcher in modern MLB history (all the more impressive considering he was accomplishing it in a hitter’s era).
At the end of May and through
ten (oops) eleven starts his ERA was a miserly 1.77, but his record was “only” 7-4 — mostly because of the lethargic Mets offense but also partially due to Santana’s inability to hang around long enough to be on the winning side. Through most of the season (including and beyond those first two months), he would be spectacular through 6 or 7 innings, but his soaring pitch counts put the ballgame in the hands of an inconsistent bullpen. As I noted in mid-June, he seemed to be moving away from his previously successful strategy (while a Twin) of