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Winning One for Johan

Mike SteffanosWednesday, August 13, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 119: Mets 4 - Nationals 3

On a day when he didn't have his best stuff, Johan Santana handed a couple of leads back to the Nationals. For a change, though, the lead that was handed to the bullpen was preserved, and Santana was finally able to notch his tenth win of the season.

This bullpen was already a significant contributing factor in Willie Randolph's demise. Jerry Manuel apparently would like to avoid the same fate, and has served notice that he is prepared to pursue other options if this crew continues to give up leads. I count myself among those who see Manuel's words as much of a motivational tool as anything else, and for at least a night it was effective.

Manuel has voiced his frustrations with the timidity of the relievers at times -- nibbling at the corners and falling behind in the count all too often. I've always felt that I could accept pitchers, particularly late inning relievers, getting beat on hits while pitching aggressively. I can't stand, however, to see games lost on walks or hits caused by falling behind in the count regularly. Apparently Jerry feels the same way. Maybe this bullpen will at last get the message. At least last night Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano seemed to.

It's unlikely that any reliever will show up riding a white horse to save the day this season. Wagner's return should help, but they'll need to get what they can out of the middle relief core of Heilman, Sanchez, Smith, Feliciano and Schoeneweis. If nothing else, they have to be more aggressive.

If I was the manager one change I might consider, once Wagner returns, is moving Heilman to the long relief spot. He could stabilize that area and start stretching out for a return to starting next season -- whether here or somewhere else. He just seems lost as a late inning guy now.

View Johan Santana's Full Season Stats

Box Score

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (2)

Confidence I think is the main thing with Heilman, and I believe he has lost some. I agree on the nibbling and falling behind, very frustrating. Schow while pitching well for the most part seems to just throw a wrong pitch at the wrong time. Smith and Feliciano have had more than their share of tough performances, but are not as bad as recent numbers. Sanchez still has velocity questions but 1 1/2 years not pitching is telling. The number that has me concerned is how many leads they have blown. Mets could be easily up 5-8 games in the East, but not being able to hold a lead, whether it is one run or five, does not a contender make. On the bright side two consecutive games the bullpen alows 0 runs and about 6 hits in what 6 innings? The thing is the offense has been a liability too, they seem to lack the "killer instinct" to put away teams, score tack on runs, or even comeback until recently. Although 12 last night, yes against the Nats, I know. Everything with this ball club seems to be peaks and valleys in some aspect. I am just waiting on that consistant run when they click and make a move.

Agreed on all points

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