Sunday, November 10, 2013

Decisions, Decisions: Mets Starters Didn't Get Them

No-decisions.  Starting pitchers for the Mets got quite used to them in 2013.  Dillon Gee led the team with 23 decisions, followed by Jonathon Niese with only 16.  A dozen pitchers started games for the Mets this past season, combining to record 57 no-decisions.

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 exactly 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 57 no-decisions in 2013, the Mets finished way up in the top ten for most no-decisions for a starting staff in team history.  Below is the current top ten.

Starting Pitchers With The Most Decisions
Ray Burris (20), Mark Bomback (18)
Craig Swan (27), Pete Falcone (20)
Dillon Gee (23), Jonathon Niese (16)
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)

The 2013 Mets tied the 1979 squad for second-most no-decisions in franchise history, surpassed only by the 1980 team.  Dillon Gee was the only pitcher to earn more than 16 decisions for the Mets in 2013, making this year's club the only one in team history to have just one hurler with at least 17 decisions in a season that wasn't curtailed by a strike.

No-decisions are the 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 was a victim of all three.  Matt Harvey pitched well enough to be among the league leaders in wins.  But a dozen no-decisions said otherwise.  Jeremy Hefner has to know how Matt Harvey feels, as he was saddled with 11 no-decisions in 23 starts.  And Dillon Gee was brilliant after his start against the Yankees on May 30.  But even a 2.71 ERA over his last 22 starts wasn't been able to prevent him from earning five losses and seven no-decisions in that time period.

Decisions, decisions.  This year's starting pitchers struggled to earn them.  And their drought was surpassed by just one team in team history.  It's tough to win many games when the starting pitchers aren't getting the Ws for the team.

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