Sunday, August 25, 2013

Decisions, Decisions: Mets Starting Pitchers Aren't Getting Them

No-decisions.  Starting pitchers for the Mets are getting quite used to them in 2013.  As of this writing, Dillon Gee leads the team with 17 decisions, followed by Matt Harvey with only 14.  A total of 11 pitchers have started games for the Mets this year, combining to record 49 no-decisions.

Assuming he doesn't start racking up no-decisions over the last five weeks of the season, Gee appears to be the only starter with a realistic shot of recording 20 decisions in 2013.  Because of Matt Harvey's innings limit, he will probably not make enough starts to have a chance of making it to 20 decisions (and that's assuming he doesn't continue to pile up the NDs).  Jeremy Hefner, who is third on the team with 12 decisions, is out for the season, thereby freezing his decision total at an even dozen.

Excluding the strike seasons of 1981, 1994 and 1995, there has never been a season in franchise history in which no starting pitcher earned 20 decisions.  But two teams came close.  In 1982, Mike Scott led the club in decisions with exactly 20, going 7-13 for the last place Mets.  Of course, that was also the year manager George Bamberger decided to use all of his starters out of the bullpen as well.

No starting pitcher made more than 24 starts for the Mets in 1982, as Charlie Puleo (24 starts, 12 relief appearances), Pete Falcone (23 starts, 17 relief appearances), Mike Scott (22 starts, 15 relief appearances), Craig Swan (21 starts, 16 relief appearances), Randy Jones (20 starts, 8 relief appearances), Pat Zachry (16 starts, 20 relief appearances) and Ed Lynch (12 starts, 31 relief appearances) were all used by Bamberger in every possible way, including save opportunities.  Of the seven pitchers listed above, only Randy Jones failed to earn a save.

The only other team in Mets history to have only one starting pitcher record 20 decisions in a non-strike-shortened season was the 1980 squad.  Like Scott two years later, Ray Burris went 7-13 for the 1980 Mets.  But unlike Scott and his fellow moundsmen, all of Burris' 29 appearances in 1980 came as a starting pitcher.

For the record, Bobby Jones led the 1994 Mets with only 19 decisions, but that season came to an abrupt end in mid-August due to a players' strike.  In each of the other two strike-shortened seasons (1981, 1995), one Met did reach 20 decisions.  Pat Zachry went 7-14 for the 1981 club, while Bobby Jones finished 10-10 for the 1995 squad.

With 49 no-decisions through games of August 24, the 2013 Mets are poised to crack the top ten for most no-decisions for a starting staff in team history.  Below is the current top ten.

Starting Pitchers With Most Decisions
Ray Burris (20), Mark Bomback (18)
Craig Swan (27), Pete Falcone (20)
Nino Espinosa (26), Jerry Koosman (18)
Mike Pelfrey (24), Johan Santana (23)
Tom Glavine (25), Steve Trachsel (25)
Sid Fernandez (25), Dwight Gooden (23)
Mike Hampton (25), Al Leiter (24)
Bobby Jones (24), Rick Reed (22)
Mike Pelfrey (24), Johan Santana/R.A. Dickey (20)
Rick Reed (27), Al Leiter (23)

The Mets have 35 games left before the curtain falls on the 2013 season.  If the starting pitchers fail to earn decisions in just nine of them, they will have recorded more no-decisions than every team in club annals but the 1980 squad.  And 17 no-decisions (or slightly less than half of the remaining games) will make this year's starting pitchers tops when it comes to not finding Ws or Ls next to their names in the morning paper.  Also, if Dillon Gee earns just two more decisions this year, it will make the 2013 Mets the first team in the 52-year history of the club not to have a starting pitcher with 20 decisions (not including strike-shortened seasons).

No-decisions are a result of many things.  Sometimes they occur because starting pitchers don't go as deep into games as they used to, allowing for a reliever to vulture a victory or ten.  Bullpens also aren't as good as they used to be, causing starting pitchers to reach for antacid tablets every time a potential "W" turns into an "ND".  And occasionally a faulty offense doesn't give a starting pitcher much run support, causing him to leave a 2-2 game, 1-1 game, or scoreless pitching duel for a pinch-hitter.

This year's team is a victim of all three.  Matt Harvey has pitched well enough to be among the league leaders in wins.  But a dozen no-decisions say otherwise.  Dillon Gee has been brilliant since his start against the Yankees on May 30.  But even a 2.27 ERA since that date hasn't been able to prevent Gee from earning six no-decisions in his last 11 starts.

Decisions, decisions.  This year's starting pitchers are struggling to earn them.  And their drought is threatening to shatter team records in that department.  That will most certainly happen if the NDs don't end soon.


Brian Joura said...

The average NL starter this year gets a decision in 68% of his starts. So, to get 20 decisions the average pitcher would need 29.4 starts. The only two Mets pitchers likely to reach that mark are Harvey and Gee. Gee likely will get 20 decisions and the Mets' bats take the night off when Harvey pitches.

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

So much for Harvey reaching 29.4 starts, or 26.4 for that matter.