Johan Santana's knee does not hurt

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Former Mets’ pitching coach was on the radio yesterday, speculating
that Johan Santana’s struggles could be a result of knee pain. This was news to Johan Santana:

“How does he know that my knee hurts?” Santana rhetorically asked.
“That’s the question that I have. You guys tell me how the heck did he
find that out….Not even the trainer knows. Not even me. I didn’t know
my knee hurts. Just put it that way.

“We got along pretty good,” Santana continued about his relationship
with Peterson, “but the reality is he’s not here. I’m the one who feels
my body better than anybody, and my knee doesn’t hurt. I don’t know
where he got that one from. I’m being honest and realistic: My knee is
the last issue here. We took care of that last year (with Oct.1 surgery
to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee), and it has nothing to do
with what’s going on right now.”

Santana has always been a straight shooter, so there’s no reason not to
believe him. Sometimes guys get shelled, even the best of them. No one
thought CC Sabathia was hurt when his ERA was over a million last
spring, so why is everyone so unwilling to believe that Santana can
just pitch poorly from time to time? It happens.

But I am taken by Santana’s comment that “I’m the one who feels my
body better than anybody.” In addition to being a straight shooter, he
has also always been a class act, so I’m surprised to see him
disparaging Mrs. Santana like this.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.