2010 Postmortem: The Best Starting Pitching Performances

As a prelude to the pitching staff postmortem, here are the top 10 performances of the season by Mets starting pitchers, per the statistic Game Score. Check out Wikipedia for an explanation of the stat.

9. (tie) 6/1/10
Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey
Game Score: 76
Result: Mets 4, Padres 2: Eight Steps To Pelf-Improvement

Big Pelf went eight strong innings, striking out a season high eight batters while walking just two. Add in 12 groundballs and it rates as his second best start of the season. His best start also came against the Padres -- see entry #6 on this list.

9. (tie) 6/23/10
Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Game Score: 76
Result: Mets 5, Tigers 0: Knuckles Flying, Dickey Blasts Detroit

The Dickster improved his win-loss record to 6-0 after this start. He struck out four in eight innings of work, allowing no runs on four hits (all singles). Jose Reyes led the offense, going 3-for-4 with a triple and home run.

8. 4/17/10
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Game Score: 77
Result: Mets 2, Cardinals 1: Twenty Is Plenty

This was the 20-inning game. Johan and Cards pitcher Jaime Garcia engaged in a pitcher's duel, as each held the other team scoreless in seven innings of work. This game is notable for many reasons, but my favorite moment was Jerry Manuel calling for a sacrifice bunt when position player Joe Mather was on the mound. Good times.

6. (tie) 5/28/10
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Game Score: 79
Result: Brewers 2, Mets 0: Igarashi? More Like, Eek, He's Rusty!

This is the only game on the list which the Mets lost. It was one in a series of terrific Johan starts which ended in a loss or no decision for the man. He tossed eight innings of shutout ball, allowing just five total baserunners while striking out five. Ryota Igarashi surrendered a game-winning home run to Corey Hart. Tough season for Igarashi (7.12 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 18 walks in 30.1 innings).

6. (tie) 6/8/10
Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey
Game Score: 79
Result: Mets 2, Padres 1: Ike's Ball Dessens Into The Night

Homegrown talent starred in this one. Pelfrey allowed one run on five hits in nine strong innings. Jose Reyes went 2-for-4 with a home run. David Wright added two hits and didn't strike out. And Ike Davis hit a game-winning 444 foot home run in the bottom of the 11th inning off Padres reliever Edward Mujica.

5. 10/1/10
Pitcher: Pat Misch
Game Score: 81
Result: Mets 2, Nationals 1: Thole Moley!

Josh Thole's game-winning homer off Tyler Clippard is the enduring (if that word applies) memory from this game, but Misch's performance was terrific. He allowed one run in eight innings, on a Mike Morse solo homer, while striking out ten and walking one. Amazingly, he induced 19 swinging strikes, or 17.4% of his pitches. His season swinging strike rate was 7.7%. Misch did well for himself this season but he shouldn't be anything more than minor league depth or a major league long-man next season.

4. 7/6/10
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Game Score: 83
Result: Mets 3, Reds 0: Johan Shuts 'Em Out, Hits One Out

Johan's three-hit shutout was overshadowed by his solo home run off the right field foul pole at Citi Field. He'd come close to hitting a home run several times during his Mets career but finally did it on this night. His peripherals weren't very impressive (five strikeouts, three walks) but hey, a shutout is a shutout.

3. 8/12/10
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Game Score: 87
Result: Mets 4, Rockies 0: Johan Santana's Punch-Out(s)!!

This was the first game after Francisco Rodriguez's domestic violence incident in the Citi Field player's lounge. I remember Kevin Burkhardt going on-and-on before this game about how the Mets were on an unstoppable downward spiral. How would they ever win another game again with all these off-the-field shenanigans? Naturally, Johan went and threw a four-hit shutout. He struck out 10, walked 2 and generated an impressive 14 swinging strikes out of 115 total pitches. Carlos Beltran hit for the "Citi Field Cycle" -- an infield single, outfield single, double and sacrifice fly.

1. (tie) 6/10/10
Pitcher: Jon Niese
Game Score: 91
Result: Mets 3, Padres 0: Jon Niese Draws Two Walks, Also Throws One-Hit Shutout

Niese faced just 28 batters in this one, which was game two of a day-night doubleheader. He struck out six, walked none and helped his own cause by reaching base twice. Unfortunately, this was among the most poorly attended games at Citi Field this season -- attendance is listed at just 14,733.

1. (tie) 8/13/10
Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Game Score: 91
Result: Mets 1, Phillies 0: Dickey Throws One-Hitter, Puts It In The Books

This is my pick for game of the year. Dickey tossed a one-hit shutout against the despised Phillies on a beautiful Friday night at Citi Field. Unfortunately, Cole Hamels accounted for the hit, a cheapo single. This game holds the distinction of being the quickest nine inning game of the season, at just two hours and nine minutes.

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