Johan Santana Rides Changeup to No-Hitter

Long after Johan Santana retires, memories of his changeup will delight fans and haunt opponents. It’s only fitting that Santana’s changeup frustrated Cardinals hitters from wire to wire in his no-hitter Friday night, dominating from the first inning to the last. Santana went to his signature pitch 38 times out of his 3 total offerings, going for 24 strikes, nine whiffs, and recording nine of his 27 outs.

It’s only fitting. Although his injuries may make a Hall of Fame bid difficult, Santana’s changeup is no doubt a hall-of-fame caliber pitch. Santana is the career leader in changeup pitch value since BIS began tracking the data in 2002 at 133.4 runs saved, and his changeup saves an average of 2.11 runs per 100 times thrown. The only pitcher who throws his changeup so often to even come close is Cole Hamels, at 2.02.

Numbers don’t to justice to this caliber of a pitch, though — let’s relive six of the best changeups on the night that made history for both Santana and the New York Mets:

1.

Batter: Carlos Beltran
First inning, one out, 1-2 count

Santana set Beltran up with three fastballs and a slider, getting strike two on a fouled-off inside fastball before dropping this changeup right on the corner. The preceding pitch came in at 88.7 MPH; Beltran swung right through this 77.7 MPH beauty.

2.

Batter: Matt Holliday
Sixth inning, one out, 3-2 count

Santana attacked Holliday with the changeup all at-bat, getting all three strikes with it and throwing it four times in total. Holliday fouled through one right down the middle of the plate the previous pitch; Santana threw this one at 77.4 MPH and went up in he zone — by far the highest in the entire at-bat — and perhaps the location was enough to surprise Holliday. Of all the pitches he saw in the at-bat, Holliday probably wants this one back the most.

3.

Batter: Matt Holliday
Ninth inning, 0 out, 0-0 count

It would be remiss if we didn’t highlight Santana’s ninth inning, an incredible performance by a pitcher dipping into his deepest reserves as he passed the 120 and eventually 130 pitch mark. Santana really leaned on the changeup in the ninth, as this was just the first of eight changeups Santana threw in the inning out of 12 total pitches. An audible gasp emitted from Citi Field as Holliday’s bat broke, but the fly ball ended up an easy, harmless out in Andres Torres‘s glove.

4.

Batter: Allen Craig
Ninth inning, 1 out, 2-1 count

Most of Santana’s damage with the changeup was done on the inner-half to righties. Not so against Craig. First, on a 1-0 pitch, Santana drew a swinging strike on the outside corner. After a slider missed roughly a foot above the strike zone, Santana came back with this pitch to bring the count to 2-2. All of which led to…

5.

Batter: Allen Craig
Ninth inning, 1 out, 2-2 count

By moving back inside just that little bit — about six inches, according to PITCHf/x — Santana sped up Craig’s bat enough to induce a lazy flyout to left field with just a 77.5 MPH pitch. The beauty of the changeup — particularly the way Santana throws it — is the ugly swings and ugly contact it can induce despite speeds most people see in their high school leagues.

6.

Batter: David Freese
Ninth inning, 2 out, 2-2 count

If Santana was going to be beaten, it was with his changeup. Four of the six pitches in the at-bat were changeups, and the two fastballs were nibbling pitches, both of which Freese took. Santana left one up on the pitch before, but Freese was only able to foul it back for strike two. Santana wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, getting the final strike as his 133rd pitch dove beneath the strike zone and the helpless wave of Freese’s bat.

That final pitch makes an excellent lasting image for the night and for Santana’s career as a whole. Santana’s changeup ruled the night and puts a stamp all his own on one of the New York Mets’ greatest moments.



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Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.


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Ira
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Ira
3 years 11 months ago

Would love to see an article assessing his HOF credentials.

keith
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keith
3 years 11 months ago

“That final pitch makes an excellent lasting image for the night and for Santana’s career as a whole.” – isn’t an aesthetic post like this more befitting of notgraphs?

Bubba
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Bubba
3 years 11 months ago

You jackass

Jack
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Jack
3 years 11 months ago

When I see comments like this I shake my head. You obviously do not read NotGraphs if you think that this is what goes on there.

RationalSportsFan
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3 years 11 months ago

How dare the author enjoy the game of baseball and see aesthetic beauty in it!

He should realize by now that every reader of Fangraphs is a robot who only wants data with which it can run calculations.

Grant
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Grant
3 years 11 months ago

This made me laugh out loud. It’s all about the delivery…

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
3 years 11 months ago

If only there were more statistics in the post…

“Santana went to his signature pitch 38 times out of his 3 total offerings, going for 24 strikes, nine whiffs, and recording nine of his 27 outs…

Santana is the career leader in changeup pitch value since BIS began tracking the data in 2002 at 133.4 runs saved, and his changeup saves an average of 2.11 runs per 100 times thrown. The only pitcher who throws his changeup so often to even come close is Cole Hamels, at 2.02.

The preceding pitch came in at 88.7 MPH; Beltran swung right through this 77.7 MPH beauty

By moving back inside just that little bit — about six inches, according to PITCHf/x — Santana sped up Craig’s bat enough to induce a lazy flyout to left field with just a 77.5 MPH pitch”

Among others.

keith
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keith
3 years 11 months ago

wait, since when is notgraphs an insult? i’m confused

Grant
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Grant
3 years 11 months ago

It was a very snarky comment.

Joe
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Joe
3 years 11 months ago

I love fangraphs, but notgraphs is consistently the least funny thing on the internet

Keith L
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Keith L
3 years 11 months ago

That’s just not the case. Even if often they are overly preoccupied with internet memes, authors like Vaswani will also write geniunely interesting essays. Try looking under the tag “TLDR”.

BurleighGrimes
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BurleighGrimes
3 years 11 months ago

My favorite pitch in baseball is the elite changeup — Santana, Hamels, Lincecum, etc. — it’s just so beautiful to watch batters get totally fooled by that pitch over and over…

DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy
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DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy
3 years 11 months ago

I am outraged, where is the replay to reverse the Beltran play?

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 years 11 months ago

Is there really a point? By now everyone in the game realizes the ump missed the call and it’s hardly one that would have changed the game in any meaningful sense.

Metsox
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Metsox
3 years 11 months ago

Who do I blame when he ends up on the dl….

Wilj
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Wilj
3 years 11 months ago

I wouldn’t exactly call it dominating considering he walked five guys but a great game none the less. Many congrats to Mr. Johan.

Juan Chapa
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3 years 11 months ago

A No -Hitter not dominating? I don’t believe it.
So what, if he walks five. The team with the
number one offense couldn’t get one hit.
Contrast this with a minor little league
team getting one hit. Its one more than the
Cardinal offense got. Its a rediculous
comparison, but so is the Cardinal offense
not being able to get one hit. One more
rediculous comparison, Tom Seaver never
recorded any type of a no – hitter! And,
most MLB pitchers, in one season, do not
come close to Saever’s lifetime ERA!

my jays are red
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my jays are red
3 years 11 months ago

what’s up with your formatting omfg

cpebbles
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cpebbles
3 years 11 months ago

Walked five guys, and gave up a hit.

BlackOps
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BlackOps
3 years 11 months ago

You misread the boxscore.

Jairo Garcia
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3 years 11 months ago

What no-hitter?

Beltran’s ball was fair. Very obviously fair. Stands to reason the Mets need divine intervention to do something right, haha. Go Giants!!

ImKeithHernandez
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ImKeithHernandez
3 years 11 months ago

This comment is ridiculous. Thanks for Zack Wheeler, though.

Joe
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Joe
3 years 11 months ago

The Giants won a world series with the dynamic duo that is Sabean and Bochy heading it, That’s more divine intervention than the Mets could ever dream of.

Cidron
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Cidron
3 years 11 months ago

Its baseball. The “human element” happens, and not just among the batters and pitchers. Sometimes its the umpires as well.. There are more than just a few moments that an umpires call has either caused history, or taken away a moment in history (detroit, 1 hitter last yr, for example). We want replay, but we also want the human element preserved. Just take and enjoy the no hitter. It is what it is.

Rick
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Rick
3 years 11 months ago

Ah yes, two wrongs make a right.

Santana has a no-hitter he didn’t deserve, and Armando Galaragga doesn’t have a perfect game that he does deserve.

Making two different kinds of mistakes doesn’t mean that it’s OK that mistakes have been made.

Vegemitch
Member
Vegemitch
3 years 11 months ago

I agree. It is a point of fact that he did not throw a no hitter, why persist in pretending? Even if the records show that Santana did throw a no hitter, we know he did not. Even if the record shows Galarraga did not throw a perfect game, we know that he did.

Officials are actually part of the sports to attempt to remove the human element as much as possible. They are to be cold arbiters of the rules, as professional and machine-like as possible. It’s a shame that the first Mets no hitter actually wasn’t at all, and Santana would have been out of the game after the 7th inning if not for chasing the irrational achievement.

Lumens66
Member
Lumens66
3 years 11 months ago

As a Mets fan of 32 years, last night’s accomplishment was sweeter than anything I’ve witnessed. I was too young to REALLY enjoy or appreciate the ’86 World Series, but last night will never be forgotten. Really, it was the second ridiculous performance by Johan I’ve seen. Game 161 of the 2008 season. On 3 days rest pitched a complete game shut out on >120 pitches. This eclipsed that all after coming off of major shoulder surgery and losing about 3 MPH off his fastball. Having had rotator cuff surgery myself, what he did is that much more heroic. I’ve watched so many Mets come close… Bobby Jones, Pedro Astacio, Kevin Appier, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine… The monkey is off our back! As for the Beltran controversy? As a life long Mets fan, all I can say is… It’s strangely fitting in the Wilpon era. And only a Mets fan or someone living in the NYC area will truly get that. Johan still needed to take advantage of it, and there have been other no hitters aided by bad calls – it’s just that they’re in HD with 24 hour coverage now. Thank you Johan. Thank you.

WinTwins
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WinTwins
3 years 11 months ago

Glad to see an old favorite finally getting a taste of some non Minnesota tainted history. That changeup….always loved watching that thing of beauty.

WinTwins
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WinTwins
3 years 11 months ago

Also, I’m sad there was no Johan Santa appearance in this post.

PrinceOfBeers
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PrinceOfBeers
3 years 11 months ago

5 walks and only 8Ks on 134 pitches is not dominance. It’s not the ugliest no-hitter, but it says more about the gimped Cardinals lineup than Santana’s skills.

DavidJ
Member
DavidJ
3 years 11 months ago

Five BBs is of course a lot, but there’s nothing “only” about 8 Ks in 32 batters faced. A 25% strikeout rate is excellent.

Lumens66
Member
Lumens66
3 years 11 months ago

That “gimped,” Cardinal lineup has the best batting average in the NL. Know your facts before you type ignorance.

Sleight of Hand Pro
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Sleight of Hand Pro
3 years 11 months ago

whoa whoa whoa… 8 Ks in that amount of hitters isnt dominance?

Jon L.
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Jon L.
3 years 11 months ago

Great article! Great game! I’m thankful to the MLB channel for showing the best parts live, even on the west coast.

morrowrosanna
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morrowrosanna
3 years 11 months ago

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morrowrosanna
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morrowrosanna
3 years 11 months ago

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Jason B
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Jason B
3 years 11 months ago

Albert really needs to get with Jason, who is making *WAY* more off of these here internets…

derek
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derek
3 years 11 months ago

Oh goodie..spam to enlivin the conversation.

Change up was dominating, it was able to keep the Cards off his fastball, now that it isn’t elite anymore. Was luck involved? I say yes, not just the call against Beltran. His BABIP was .000!!! (SSS alert?) I say congrats Mr. Santana from a Braves fan, great story coming back from surgery!

Snowblind
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Snowblind
3 years 11 months ago

No hitter with an asterisk.

Uh Oh Cordero
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Uh Oh Cordero
3 years 11 months ago

Wouldn’t it have been more fitting if Beltran took strike 3 looking for the final out of the game?

j0hnj0hn
Member
j0hnj0hn
3 years 11 months ago

Great game by Santana, but I do find it a bit odd that Fangraphs didn’t post the .GIF that showed that the ball Beltran hit was fair. The last time a questionable call was made that aided a no-hitter, this place was full of articles for instant-replay. A little consistency would be appreciated.

Nonetheless, still a great performance bij Santana.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 years 11 months ago

We need instant replay.

Satisfied?

j0hnj0hn
Member
j0hnj0hn
3 years 11 months ago

Oeh snappy. But that’s not the point. My point was that a site, especially one like this, needs to be consistent in how they evaluate these kinda of things. It just seemed odd that the last time around they were all for instant replay because the ump made a mistake and now when it happened again, not a single mention of it.

My personal opinion on this matter about instant replay doesn’t matter, nor did I make it clear wheter I’m for it or not in my post so please read and/or understand a post before you go ahead and make a snide remark :)

caseyB
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caseyB
3 years 11 months ago

For anyone talking about asterisks, should we put asterisks next to the Yankees’ title that was aided by Jefrey Maier? What about those titles heavily aided by confirmed steroids cheats? What about every WS title aided by a questionable umpiring call? This is a serious question.

Bill
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Bill
3 years 11 months ago

You won’t get an answer for those things most likely. Especially from the fans of those teams mentioned

Lumens66
Member
Lumens66
3 years 11 months ago

They are all good questions. The reality is that baseball is an imperfect game played by imperfect people, because any adult with their faculties intact knows that life is imperfect. Shocking fact, I know. Armando Gallaraga was robbed of a perfect game by Jim Joyce. Should that be reversed? No. It is what it is. Johan Santana capitalized on a mistake by an umpire. Good for him. It’s an amazing achievement considering what he has come back from. Was is the best pitching performance of his career? Arguably, his best was in game 161 in 2008 against the Marlins, given the stage, implications behind the game and the fact that it was on 3 days rest… But it was still pretty frigging good – and also… A no hitter – last I saw when I looked at the box score. The first in a long overdue drought for us Mets fans. Tainted or now, I’ll take it all day long.

Dean Travers
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Dean Travers
3 years 11 months ago

Sure–put an asterisk on the Maier home run: but that’s not to say the Yankees still wouldn’t have won the game.

The steriod stuff is mostly hearsay–in the case of Santana’s game we have factual evidence that Beltran got a hit; it may be a no-hitter on paper but in actuality it was not. No matter how many straw-man arguments Santana supporters build–you can’t deny that the Cardinals got a hit.

caseyB
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caseyB
3 years 11 months ago

Dean,

1) Trailing by 1 run going into the ninth, the Yankees probably would NOT have won that game. The GIFT home run they were given altered the course of that game, and maybe the course of the entire series and postseason. That title deserves an asterisk.

2) You clearly do not understand legal terms and issues. Most of the evidence gathered on players like Clemens, Justice, Neagle, Stanton, and Canseco concerning their usage during the years they played for the Yankees is NOT hearsay. It would be admissible in a court of law. In fact, you are seeing some it right now in the Clemens perjury trial. It is considered FACTUAL direct evidence in a court of law. And that is also the case with all the evidence we have so far that has been gathered as a result of BALCO and the Mitchell report and other ways. It is direct, factual evidence.

No matter how much you are confused, you can’;t deny then that those teams who were able to win titles while many of their key players were on steroids had an unfair competitive advantage. If one wants to give Santana an asterisk, fine. Then also put one next to the Yankees’ 1996 title and also the subsequent ones where confirmed steroids abusers played a key role.

And, IMO, the titles gained via cheating are much worse and much more invalid than any accolade gained via a missed umpiring call. One is cheating on the part of the players. The other is simply an error in human judgment in which the player had no part.

Brian
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Brian
3 years 11 months ago

lmao “the steroid stuff is mostly hearsay”

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 years 11 months ago

How about the Royals’ title aided by Don Denkinger’s brain fart at 1B?

It counts. Asterisks are stupid. It also, however, further illustrates the need for instant replay. If the bad call and the “questions” about the no-hitter get us a little bit closer to instant replay, I say it’s a good thing.

Pat Golden
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Pat Golden
3 years 11 months ago

no the real question is…. do you trade him?

does the no hitter make him untradeable???

Simon
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Simon
3 years 11 months ago

Fairly sure it’s the contract and shoulder surgery that make him pretty much untradeable.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 11 months ago

I love this, a pitcher being successful with more than a 100 mph fastball. This is baseball at it’s best!

Jason B
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Jason B
3 years 11 months ago

His fastball is > 100 MPH? Zounds!!

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