Our plucky fight-till-the-last-out gang gave us another entertaining effort but the hole was just a little too deep. It was the upside down game . . . 6 innings of one run ball from the bullpen but six runs allowed in just three frames by Johan. Early on GKR asked the question that's almost too scary to say out loud . . . are Johan's recent struggles a blip or has he hit a post-surgery wall?
Not many could have expected the kind of first half Johan delivered and it's probably not fair to expect his second half to match that standard. But the last three outings have been ugly. In fact, while he's shown flashes of dominance his overall numbers since the no-no are troubling. Is this the new Johan?
I missed his two prior starts but tonight it looked like his fastball velocity was down and he missed his spots badly more often than you'd expect. Both sound like they could be signs of diminished arm endurance. Given the poor track record of other pitchers coming off shoulder surgery he's sort of in unchartered territory.
Did the stress of the no-no take that big a toll? His post no-no outings have been either very strong or uncharacteristically bad. Is it a causal relationship or a random string of inconsistency?
His first post-no-no start saw him allow four long-balls but it was in the launching pad known as Yankee Stadium so maybe we cut him some slack. It was followed by a five inning four run outing that saw six hits, four walks and six k's.
Then came a three outing dominant run where he allowed 12 hits and 2 runs in 20 innings though his k/bb ratio was a pedestrian 14/7.
The three starts since then he's tossed 12-2/3 innings allowed 28 hits/19runs/6 HRs with 11 k's & 5 walks.
His first five starts after the no-no saw 30 ip a 1.23 WHIP, 3.60 ERA, 25/12 k/bb & 1.5 HR's/9ip.
Overall since the no-no: 42-2/3ip, 1.64 WHIP, 6.54 ERA, 37/17 k/bb, 2.32 HR's/9ip.
So what's it mean? Beats me but the front office is already wrestling with how to deal with seemingly being ahead of schedule on the development curve as a trade deadline approaches. The bullpen has been a glaring weakness but if Santana's post-surgical shoulder isn't up to a 180 inning grind, then coupled with the loss of Dillon Gee you have to wonder how many leads the bullpen will inherit.
There was a shocking stat a day or two ago that showed this years club, albeit on the heels of a big losing streak, had the same 46-45 record as the 2011 team after 91 games. Of course, that club shed Beltran and F-Rod while this club is seeking to add talent. It's hard to see a 2011-ish collapse but if Santana is diminished and with the injury to Dillon Gee, are they really ready to make a playoff run. We should certainly hope so and root for it but are the question marks enough to cut Sandy some slack if he's less willing to to give us short-term pieces at the trade deadline?