By Rich Coutinho
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New York, N.Y. (WFAN) - During the off-season, we all watched the critics poke holes in the Mets starting rotation calling it the weakness of the team. One media member even mentioned to me that he considered it “the underbelly of the National League.” Well, as the saying goes–the meek shall inherit the earth. The duo of Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey have been as good as any two hurlers in baseball.
Santana has pitched to a 2.75 ERA allowing just 49 hits in 59 innings while striking out 60 but more importantly giving the Mets a swagger that has been missing for quite some time. I told you all back in Spring Training that #57 changes everything and that has certainly come to fruition. He sets the tone with a mound presence that has transformed the Mets from also-rans to contenders. As Johan might say, “Believe it amigo.”
And then there is RA Dickey whose story has been well documented but is certainly worth repeating. He was pretty much out of baseball but taught himself the lost art of the knuckleball with a wrinkle–he throws it much harder than your typical knuckler. He also has much better control than your garden-variety knuckleballer and that makes him very tough to beat as evidenced by his 7-1 record.
“We heard all of the outside stuff in spring training”, says RA Dickey,”but we really felt this rotation had the chance to be very good. We knew that if Johan came back healthy it would benefit every single starting pitcher and it has worked out that way.” Being around this team all season, I can safely tell you that these pitchers spend a lot of time talking approach and preparing for their next opponent.
“A couple of weeks ago Santana and I talked to Jonathon Niese about some things and it was a great session for all of us”, says Dickey,”because Niese was open to listening and we were more than happy to share our viewpoints. So much of that occurs in the dugout during a game and I think those sessions are so valuable for all of us.”
Make no mistake about it–Johan Santana and RA Dickey are as good as it gets right now in the National League in terms of a 1-2 punch. And those “punches” have knocked out a bunch of good teams through the season’s first 48 games. That is the biggest reason why only 2 teams in the league have more wins than the Mets who sit alone in second place in the NL East. You know that same division that was supposed to beat the Mets like a drum this year. The Mets apparently never got the memo that they were supposed to roll over for the other NL East teams.