Here’s an idea I’m instantly regretting: instead of empty open thread posts for playoff games, as we’ve done around here in years past, each day I’m going to attempt to have a hopefully-quick look around at some splits and stats and whatever else stands out on a Jays player’s 2013 season, because… what the hell else is there to do for the next month? Or the next week. Or just today– or however long I actually continue to follow through on this exercise.
1:00 PM ET – Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis – Gerrit Cole (1.3 rWAR) vs. Lance Lynn (1.8 rWAR)
3:00 PM ET – Tampa Bay vs. Boston – Matt Moore (2.6 rWAR) vs. Jon Lester (3.0 rWAR)
6:00 PM ET – Los Angeles vs. Atlanta – Zack Greinke (3.9 rWAR) vs. Kris Medlen (3.1. rWAR)
9:30 PM ET – Detroit vs. Oakland – Max Scherzer (6.7 rWAR) vs. Bartolo Colon (5.1 rWAR)
Get news updates on the game as they happen, and whatever else fun comes along the way, by downloading theScore app for free on your moblie device!
This is going to start sounding like a damn mantra for every time I do one of these for a Jays pitcher, but there isn’t a whole lot of data for us to parse on Sergio Santos this year. He spent the bulk of the season on the DL, missing 96 games with what was originally triceps pain, and ended up being bone spurs in his throwing elbow– just like Josh Johnson did! But when he came back at the end of the season, holy fuck did he ever pitch like a boss. (Just like Josh Johnson will?)
I was thrilled when the Jays picked him up from the White Sox in exchange for Nestor Molina in December of 2011 (commenters on that post, hilariously not so much), and never wavered on him, even as he spent a season and two-thirds in the injury wilderness, earning the nickname “Surgery Santos” from some, and never showing anything close to the absolutely fucking disgusting form I, and many others who felt the same way, remembered from his White Sox days. It wasn’t easy to keep from wavering: the fact that he was a converted shortstop, who had only 155.1 innings at any level on his resume when he was acquired, certainly made it seem possible that the filthy power slider he was throwing was just too much too soon for his arm. He got off to an ugly start to his Jays career, and things only went downhill from there.
But this year? Holy fucking this year!
It’s only a 25 inning sample, granted, and much of it was in the watered-down month of September, but Santos was stupidly good. Stupidly good! He was also hurt, which remains kind of a problem, but still… stupidly good!
An ERA of 1.75! A 31.1% strikeout rate! A career high swinging strikeout rate of 17.7%! Line drives on just 8.6% of balls in play!
Fastball velocity was about the same as it always was, slider was harder, and perhaps most impressively, he issued just four walks in 25 innings, two of which were intentional, making for a 4.4% walk rate.
Santos has never come close to having that kind of control. His previous best BB/9 was 4.12, and this year it was 1.40.
Signs of things to come? True, I’ve always felt he could be ridiculously good, but you’ve got to think there’s going to be some regression there. For one thing, the sample is small enough that there is still all kinds of room for variance, and the 4.2% HR/FB rate– while maybe another sign of the weak contact he was inducing– is sure to go up.
Awesomely, though, even his xFIP, which regresses HR/FB to the league average (because, as FanGraphs explains, “home run rates are generally unstable over time and fluctuate around league-average”), is still an impressive 2.61 this season. And while the spike in K/BB is pretty large (his previous best was 3.17, this year it was 7.00), it’s not like it’s completely off the charts: among pitchers with 20 innings or more he ranked fourth in all of baseball, just ahead of Cliff Lee, and behind Koji Uehara, Edward Mujica, and the North Shore Strangler.
Yeah, it’s still a tiny sample, but… let me have this one! We all deserve a chance to watch Santos have a full, healthy year where he pitches the way he’s capable. It will be stupidly great. And this small end-of-season taste just wasn’t enough. Here’s to 2014– and to Alex Anthopoulos not having to move him in the damn off-season. I’d get that, given the health history, I guess, but man… so stupidly disgustingly good. At least give us that for next year!