Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Mets Tradition of Not Supporting Pitchers

I started this post early in the afternoon, well before the Mets and Marlins walked off the field tonight. It seems silly not to acknowledge what happened. I greatly respect the decision of the players to act according to their beliefs and in support of their teammates. It's a reminder of something that the coronavirus has already shown us this year, that some things are more important than a ballgame.


I had to get up really early today, so I didn't watch last night's Mets-Marlins game. When I woke up and read about what happened, I was very glad not to have witnessed another terrific Jacob deGrom pitching performance getting unrewarded with a win. This multi-season story arc has gone beyond bizarre, it's become kind of pathetic.

I remember in my early years of watching the Mets how many times the team's inept offense cost Tom Seaver a win. The one reason not to be completely despondent when the one and only true Tom Terrific - who, unlike a certain unnamed quarterback, didn't need to give himself that handle - was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, was the realization that he was finally pitching for a team that would score runs for him. Seaver finished his career with 311 wins. 198 came with the Mets, including 9 from his return to Queens in 1983. The first 189 of those came in the first 10-1/2 seasons with the Mets, when he was in the prime of his career.

It was a different game back then, in the late 60s through most of the 70s. Even good offensive clubs had automatic outs at the bottom of their order. Teams scored fewer runs and hit fewer home runs, Hitters struck out less and tended to put the ball in play earlier in the count. Pitchers tended to finish games more often, some of that due to the way offense was structured over those years. Still, Seaver was incredible even for the time. In his first time around with the Mets from 1968 through June 1977, Seaver started 361 games and finished 166 of them, about 46% of his starts. There weren't very many short outings among the non-complete games, either. Seaver averaged about 7.8 innings per start over those years.

Seaver was such a great pitcher. It was frustrating to watch so many great starts wasted by the pathetic offense that defined the Mets teams of that era. In 1971 Seaver completed the season with an almost ridiculous 1.76 ERA. That was only good for a 20-10 record in 35 starts. A sample of some of his losses and no decisions that year:
  • April 11 (No Decision) 9 IP, 0 ER
  • May 17 (No Decision) 9.2 IP, 3 ER
  • July 17 (Loss) 8.1 IP, 1 ER
  • July 27 (No Decision) 8 IP, 2 ER
  • Aug 1 (Loss) 7 IP, 2 ER
  • Aug 10 (ND) 10 IP, 0 ER
  • Sep 16 (Loss) 9 IP, 0 ER
Jacob deGrom has had some rough ones, but he never had to pitch 10 shutout innings with a no decision to show for it as Seaver did on 8/10/71. Of course, Jacob deGrom has a much better offensive team in support of him than Seaver did, but when he pitches they often resemble those pathetic Mets offenses of the 70s. There really is no way to explain it, but it's definitely become a thing these last few years. And when the Mets do score a few for Jake, the bullpen implodes like last night.

With a new owner soon, I would expect to see some changes to this team. Maybe a few new faces can shake up the dynamic and deGrom can get rewarded with some more wins going forward. At least when it happened to Seaver it was more understandable, the teams' offense just plain sucked. Koosman, Matlack and all the rest of that era's pitchers got the exact same treatment. This ongoing saga with deGrom's starts is just ridiculous.


Got the news I was hoping for today. I'm scheduled for outpatient surgery on my back next Friday. I can finally look forward to a resolution of this problem that has made the last four months so deeply crappy. I can be back to a fairly normal living experience in about 6 weeks.

That's it for me tonight. Please stay safe, be well and take care. I should be back tomorrow.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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