Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jon Rauch: NL East Killer

Jon Rauch has been outstanding for the Mets in the bullpen this year.  After getting credit for his team-leading third victory in the Mets' 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins, Rauch has now pitched 9⅓ scoreless innings in ten appearances.  But the zero in the runs allowed column is just the beginning of the story.

Rauch has faced a total of 32 batters over his first ten relief outings, retiring 28 of them.  The line against him (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) is so ridiculously low, you'd think there was a typo or three involved (.097/.125/.129).  But it's true.  Jon Rauch has been that dominant.

Prior to this season, Rauch was a good, but not great, reliever.  In 477 appearances, he had a 3.76 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.  But he was always good against the National League East.  In fact, his 3.50 ERA against the Mets was his highest against any NL East team.  But now he pitches for the Mets - not against them - and the NL East is about to discover just how special he is.

Tuesday's 1-2-3 inning against the Marlins lowered his career ERA and WHIP against Miami.  Here are his career numbers against all the NL East teams he will be facing as a member of the Mets.

  • vs. ATL: 1-0, 3.09 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, .189 batting average against, .220 on-base pct.
  • vs. MIA: 4-2, 3.07 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, .200 batting average against, .240 on-base pct.
  • vs. PHI: 2-2, 2.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .238 batting average against, .289 on-base pct.
  • vs. WAS: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .211 batting average against, .286 on-base pct.

  • Combined: 8-4, 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .210 batting average against, .253 on-base pct.

We're not talking about a small sample size here, either.  Rauch has appeared in 107 games against those four teams, pitching 121⅓ innings.  In those 121⅓ innings, he has allowed only 95 hits.  He has also struck out 115 batters while walking only 27.  Simply stated, Jon Rauch has dominated the division.

After a 2011 season in which the Mets relief corps was spotty at best, it's good to have a dependable arm for a change.  Of the three new bullpen acquisitions made by Sandy Alderson this past off-season, Jon Rauch has clearly been the best.  But looking at his past history against the NL East, should his early season success surprise you, especially considering that all but four of the Mets' first 17 games have come against their division rivals?

We'll have to wait and see how he performs against NL Central and NL West, but as far as his team's own division is concerned, Jon Rauch is and always has been an NL East killer.  As long as the unbalanced schedule remains in play, Rauch will be one the key players in the Mets bullpen.  It's quite refreshing to have complete confidence in a reliever for a change.

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