I like Johan. It was a great run. He went from a tentative Rule 5 pick to ace lefty Cy Young winner. That happens once a generation, in about one team out of thirty. For awhile there, I think 17 straight wins, he was unbeatable at home.
Well, times have changed. The Grey Lady says, Johan is already getting "Bronx cheers".
The fans at Shea Stadium stood and cheered Johan Santana when he jogged out of the dugout 20 minutes before Saturday’s game. They stood and cheered, as if they were doing the wave, when he walked back from the bullpen, and they stood and cheered again when he ran out to the mound, his first pitch at Shea a few tantalizing minutes away.
When Santana was removed in the seventh inning of the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, immediately after giving up his third home run of the afternoon, there was little standing, hardly any cheering and quite a bit of booing. Welcome to New York, Johan.
His line doesn't look terrible, but he pitched into hard luck for a second straight game, facing the other team's ace. Though, surrendering three homers, it's not like he was unhittable.
Which brings up his recent M.O. Sure, great pitcher at missing bats. Tons of strikeouts. But, he throws a lot of pitches. Balls, strikes, fouls. High counts. Hitters can get the hang of fouling off his change-up. And, every so often, a RH hitter finds a fat fastball or a cement mixer slider and takes him out.
The Mets and their kingdom are figuring this out. Santana will keep you close, but you still have got to hit. Unfortunately for Johan, wearing the mantle of the "best pitcher in baseball" is an inhuman expectation, but one he eagerly embraced in getting his many millions.
“We’re not perfect,” Santana said. “I wish we could do everything the way everybody wants, but we’re human beings and we’re going to make mistakes sometimes. It’s just how you react to it or how you bounce back and do your job. Right now, a lot of people are expecting a lot of things from me. I’m trying to do my job and hopefully exceed those expectations.”
Something has got to give. The Mets need pitching now more than ever.