So, uh, this guy came up in 1987. In 1991, he… Look, normally I do a bio for new signings, but I think I can skip it in this case.
Glavine won 61 games for the Mets over the last five years. Because they’re the Mets, that makes him eleventh on their all-time list, five behind Steve Trachsel; he must have a certain disappointment that he couldn’t get one more year there for the thirteen wins it would take to catch Bobby Jones for ninth. He was shaky in his first year there, and in the last part of his last season, but pitched well in the middle three years, not always with the best support.
Last season, he was 13-8 with an ERA just worse than the league. For most of the season, he pitched well, and on Sept. 14 he pitched well against the Phillies, though the Mets blew the game as they did the season, at the end; he stood at 13-6 with a 3.88 ERA. He didn’t pitch too well in his next start, and got blasted in his last two, capping it with his infamous 1/3 inning, seven run performance in the season finale.
The severe warning sign for Tom is that his strikeout rate dipped precipitously last year, to 89 in 200 1/3 innings (3.998 per nine). As a rule of thumb, four strikeouts per nine is the limit below which you simply can’t be an effective pitcher. In 2003, it dipped like this, but he was able to correct and get it back up to 4.5/9 the next two years, a little better in 2006. At any rate, it’s hard to see him as much more than a slightly above-average innings eater. Still, he’s Tom Glavine, and the Braves probably would have won the division last year if they’d replaced Bud-Jo Redavier with a slightly above-average innings eater. (Define these numbers: 82, 74, 69, 60, 37. Give up? These are the ERA+ of the five men who were the primary #4 and #5 starters in 2007.)
Glavine has 242 wins in a Braves uniform. He’s 24 behind Niekro for third on the franchise list, and I don’t think he’s going to last long enough to make it. However, he’s probably secured fourth from Smoltz, who’s 35 behind. He’s fourth in strikeouts, third in starts, tied for eighth in shutouts, and unlikely to move up or down in any of these categories. Like Smoltz, is only likely to move up in negative categories; will certainly, if he pitches at all, move up the home runs allowed and walks allowed lists. He has two fewer career losses with the team than Smoltz. Given that Smoltz is certainly a better pitcher now… 21st on the all-time wins list with 303, and could move up several places in that this year. Only fifteen behind Niekro in overall wins, and Niekro is 16th. Third-most wins, all-time, by a lefthander; can’t catch Spahn, but 21 behind Carlton.
Interestingly, Glavine’s similar players list (career, not through age) is headed by Seaver and Wynn, but after that has several guys who either struggled to make the Hall (Ruffing and Grimes, who had to wait for the Veterans, and Jenkins, who was out for several years) or haven’t at all (John, Morris, Kaat), plus a bunch of old-timers. I would not at all be surprised if, despite 300 wins and two Cy Young Awards, Glavine is made to wait a couple of years. There have always been some people who have thought that he was too team-dependent, or that he got unfair breaks from the umpires, and those people will argue that he wasn’t as good as some guys who are left out.