Like pepper games and long-term contracts for Marlins players, the complete game for a starting pitcher has virtually disappeared from baseball. In the golden days of the sport, a starter was expected to go nine innings. But with teams focusing on pitch counts and employing a number of specialty relievers, complete games are becoming obsolete.
In 1962, Mets' pitchers tossed 43 complete games. That means the staff threw more complete games than the team had wins. (The '62 team finished with a 40-120 record.) From 1967 to 1976, Tom Seaver averaged more than 16 complete games per season. Since 1976, the only Met with as many as 16 complete games in a season was Dwight Gooden, who had exactly that number in 1985. And since Doc completed 16 games during his Cy Young Award-winning campaign, no Met has reached double digits in complete games other than ... Dwight Gooden. The former Doctor K completed 12 games in 1986 and 10 games in 1988. Meanwhile, the last Mets team to record 10 complete games was the 1996 squad.
The number of complete games for the Mets has been shrinking faster than Ryan Braun's credibility (and testicles). But this year, the Mets might do something in the complete game department that they've never done before.
The Mets have now played two-thirds of their 2013 schedule. Through 108 games, the team has only one complete game to its credit. But the pitcher who tossed that complete game (Dillon Gee) didn't even pitch nine innings to get credit for the CG. On June 17, Gee pitched eight shutout innings versus the Braves and was allowed to start the ninth with a precarious 1-0 lead. But after retiring Jason Heyward to start the inning, Gee allowed a single to B.J. Upton and a game-winning homer to Freddie Freeman. By rule, since the game was not shortened by weather and no other pitcher took the mound for the Mets, Gee was credited with a complete game, even though he only pitched 8⅓ innings. (Note: Matt Harvey is the only starter to pitch nine innings in a game this year when he faced the Chicago White Sox on May 7. However, he was not credited with a complete game because the game went into extra innings. Bobby Parnell was brought in to pitch the tenth in relief of Harvey.)
|This is what the end of the Mets' only complete game of 2013 looked like.|
Through their first 51 seasons, the Mets have had at least two complete games every year. The 2004 and 2007 teams are the only squads with exactly two complete games, while the 2003 and 2009 Mets finished their respective seasons with three complete games. All other staffs in team history had a minimum of five complete games.
Every squad in club annals has had at least two nine-inning complete game victories. The 2013 staff has only one. And it wasn't even a nine-inning effort or a victory. The Mets truly are as close to completely incomplete as they can get.