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Johan Santana put Terry Collins in a tight spot

Jun 1, 2012, 10:04 PM EDT

Johan Santana Reuters Reuters

Terry Collins was thrust in between a rock and a hard place tonight.

His choices:

A) Let one of the most expensive pitchers in major league history, a guy who happens to be coming off shoulder surgery, top his previous career high in pitches in search of the franchise’s elusive no-hitter

B) Pull his left-handed ace, something that surely would have happened in the eighth had he already allowed a hit or two, and try to protect his team’s investment while also likely increasing his team’s chances of completing the no-hitter by bringing in a right-handed reliever to face three straight right-handed hitters.

Obviously, he chose A. I imagine every manager in the league would have done the same. It would have been extremely difficult to go the other way, assuming that Johan Santana wanted to stay in. I do think the Mets would have had the better chance of getting the hitless ninth with Frank Francisco or Bobby Parnell facing Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and David Freese. Santana, though, got the job done, giving the Mets their first no-no in their 51-year history.

Repercussions, if there are any, will take time to manifest. Santana had never topped 125 pitches in 273 career starts before throwing 133 pitches tonight. He hadn’t thrown more than 108 pitches in a start this season. The Mets will almost surely give him an extra day or two off before his next start. But rightly or wrongly, if he breaks down again later this year, people are going to point to tonight as the cause.

  1. rooney24 - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    One long outing shouldn’t be too tough on him. I would think that multiple outings with 115-120 pitches would be worse than one of 133.

  2. DJ MC - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    You do want to protect the investment, and not allow personal glory to take precedence over the best interests of the team.

    However, throwing a no-hitter is (counting perfect games in the group) the highest achievement for a pitcher. First-line-of-the-obituary kind of stuff. You don’t take a guy out without a really, really good reason.

    • chuckj1234 - Jun 2, 2012 at 4:20 AM

      Unless his arm is falling off. Not a difficult decision.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    People can point all they want. Collins HAD TO leave Santana in. And if/when he is placed on the DL anybody who complains is a spineless weasel. Unless they complain NOW!!! I want any of these writers who are going to complain to do it TOMORROW. Don’t keep your mouth shut, then if/when he gets hurt, say “I knew this would happen”.

    My personal opinion? You had to keep him in, but he is likely to spend some time on the DL in the next couple months. But if I were a Mets fan, I would think it was worth it.

  4. DonRSD - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    LET’S GO METS!!!

  5. Kevin S. - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Torre didn’t. He pulled Cone after seven no-hit innings when he was coming back from his aneurysm.

    • giantsfan428 - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Cone game was RIGHT after his aneurysm, maybe even his first start back after it. Santana’s had some time back from his injury, including his last game out, where he had that complete game shutout against the Padres. Two fairly different situations, different enough to warrant, in my opinion, different choices by their managers.

      • giantsfan428 - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:52 PM
        here’s the link to his stats from that year; it was his first game back, and like Utley’s Hair says, an aneurysm is a much more serious thing to undergo than shoulder surgery (not to diss Santana or the remarkable comeback he’s made). But they’re different situations, and I think in each situation the manager made the right call.

    • Utley's Hair - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:28 PM

      Well, technically speaking, an aneurysm is more of a life-threatening thing than shoulder problems.

  6. hushbrother - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    You know, pitch counts are important, but obsessing about them detracts from one’s ability to enjoy the game. Fans don’t want to keep hearing announcers saying “HIS PITCH COUNT IS HIGH! WHAT ABOUT HIS PITCH COUNT??” over and over again. Ok, it’s a concern for the team, to be sure, but do we have to be hammered over the head with it so much?

    And by the way, if throwing 134 pitches is so dangerous, how were starting pitchers able to do it frequently for 100 years without breaking down at a higher rate than they do today?

    • DJ MC - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      Did I miss some research that says the rate of breakdowns isn’t lower now than it was back then? Serious question.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 2, 2012 at 12:44 AM

        It’s selection bias. The people who are able to throw 150 pitches and survive are the ones who last in MLB back then. The ones who washed out due to injuries are forgotten, as if they never existed.

        Also, while pitch counts aren’t discussed, it’s a huge myth that all pitchers threw way more innings than today. Here’s a list copied from a Joe Pos post:
        1956: 6.41 innings per start.
        1963: 6.50 innings per start.
        1968: 6.66 innings per start.
        1971: 6.60 innings per start.
        1977: 6.30 innings per start.
        1980: 6.33 innings per start.
        1985: 6.22 innings per start.
        1990: 6.06 innings per start.
        1995: 5.90 innings per start.
        1998: 6.06 innings per start.
        2001: 5.92 innings per start.
        2004: 5.86 innings per start.
        2008: 5.85 innings per start.

        50 years, two fewer outs a game.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Playas gonna play, haters gonna hate. In the meantime, Johan threw a no hitter against the best offense in the NL. He didn’t throw 200 pitches, and the last 2 innings seemed relatively stress free, as far as the last 2 innings of a no hitter can be stress free. I think he threw about 12 pitches in each of the last 2 innings? Not bad

  8. jjpileggi - Jun 2, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Terry Collins is an incredibly decent and caring baseball professional. He had to bear the burden of a tough decision, and it was as much driven by a deep affection for the guys in his charge as much as the game of baseball. I have great admiration for the job he has done over the past year and a half under very difficult ownership conditions. But he has never lost what is an obvious sense of care and compassion for the young man in the clubhouse. Bravo, Terry.

    John Pileggi

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