Johan Santana still has a long way to go before he pitches in another major league game, but he took an important step today in his recovery from his second shoulder capsule surgery.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Santana has advanced to throwing off a full-mound in Orioles’ camp. The southpaw is expected to throw two more bullpen sessions before having hitters track his pitches in the batter’s box. The next step would be facing live hitters.
Nearly one full year removed from surgery, Santana hasn’t had any setbacks with his shoulder. Kubatko writes that he could be ready for game action sooner than the Orioles originally anticipated, but there’s no way to know for sure until he starts to build up his workload.
“Put it this way: I feel good,” he said. “What that means, time will tell. I feel really good. So does that mean we’re going to be on the mound facing hitters soon? I don’t know. But I’m optimistic when it’s time that I’ll be ready and we’ll carry that through the season. Not just one game and one time. I want to do it the rest of the season.”
Santana hasn’t pitched in a major league game since August 17, 2012.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.