Ron Darling: ‘Beautiful Time To Be A Pitcher’

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Clayton Kershaw (Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw (Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

In case you missed it, the New York Mets did not deal Bartolo Colon before the trade deadline last Thursday. On the surface, that move – or lack thereof – is a little strange. Colon, 41, is 10-9 with a 4.12 ERA and has 111 strikeouts in 146.1 innings. Why not deal him to a contender for prospects?

Well, because the Mets view themselves as a contender, that’s why.

John Feinstein chuckled at this notion, but then then he looked at the standings. Entering play Aug. 6, the Mets (54-59) are just seven games out of first in the NL East, where the Nationals (60-51) have lost eight of their last 13 and the Braves (58-55) have lost seven straight.

What the heck is going on out East?

“My travels bring me all around baseball, and I get to see all the teams that are supposed to be pretenders or contenders and all those kind of things,” MLB on TBS analyst Ron Darling said on The John Feinstein Show. “I think one theme that I’ve run through is there aren’t a lot of great teams. You have a Washington team that, for whatever reason, has not been able to equal their record with the talent that they seem to have on paper, and the Atlanta Braves are going through some of the similar things they did last year, where it’s feast or famine with the home run and scoring. No team has pulled away.”

“That being said,” Darling continued, “if you look at the roster, you’re thinking at some point Washington’s going to go on a 15-5 run and kind of let these teams know that 2015 is going to be the year for them. (But) I think the Mets have played real hard. I think they, like most teams, aspire to be a playoff team. I think with the two Wild Cards, it’s made a lot of teams feel like they’re in it.”

“But to me, if you’re not a .500 baseball team in the middle of August, it’s hard to really brag about what you’re doing.”

Even if the Mets somehow make the playoffs – they’re also seven games back of the Wild Card – sooner or later they’re going to run into the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom Darling still considers the class of the NL.

“I go back to the Dodgers because of what baseball has become,” said the 53-year-old Darling, who pitched in the big leagues for 13 seasons. “It’s a really beautiful time to be a pitcher in this game. There’s a lot of guys that strike out. There’s not a great two-strike approach. The check swing (is not what it once was). So it’s a great time to be a pitcher.”

And the Dodgers have plenty of them: Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 1.82 ERA) is having one of the best seasons in recent memory, Zack Greinke leads the team in strikeouts (158), Josh Beckett (9-6, 2.88 ERA) has been more than serviceable, and Hyun-Jin Ryu – in Darling’s opinion – is the most underrated of the bunch. Ryu is 12-5 with a 3.39 ERA and has 111 strikeouts in 124.2 innings.

Said Darling, “You know in the postseason that if you’ve got those horses, it gives you the best chance to win.”

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