There have been a lot of varying reports and mixed signals about Johan Santana’s health status and potential readiness for Opening Day, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News paints a picture that’s anything but optimistic.
According to Martino “the Mets’ private expectations for Santana’s April 1 availability are even grimmer than their public line” and “there is almost no chance that Santana avoids the disabled list at the beginning of the season.”
Obviously having Santana feeling good enough to start on Opening Day would be ideal, but missing a couple starts and rejoining the rotation in mid-April would hardly be disastrous. Of course, right now that’s looking more like the best-case scenario than the likely scenario, although Santana did some light throwing yesterday to show a little progress.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.