Mets left-hander Johan Santana had a 3.24 ERA in 17 starts before the All-Star break, looking like a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors.
But his second half has been much less impressive.
Santana was hammered for eight earned runs on eight hits Saturday night against the Braves before being forced from the game with one out in the second inning and has now yielded 24 runs over his past 14 frames. He was recently given three weeks off due to an ankle sprain — this was his first start back — but that period of rest clearly didn’t help anything. In fact, the eight runs in less than two frames represent the worst results of his career.
Santana has a 4.58 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 112 total innings this season and a 7.98 ERA since throwing 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals on the first of June. He’ll get the first-place Nationals next.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.