Johan Santana’s struggles continued tonight against the Dodgers, as he was chased after being knocked around for six runs over just three innings. It matched the second-shortest start of his career.
Santana gave up seven hits in all, including a two-run homer to Matt Kemp in the first inning and a two-run homer to Luis Cruz in the third. He walked three and struck out three and threw 45 out of 72 pitches for strikes.
Santana has now allowed 19 runs over his past three starts and six runs or more in each of them. The southpaw is just the third Mets’ pitcher to give up six runs or more in three straight starts, joining Pedro Astacio and Bobby Jones. He’s the fourth pitcher in the majors to do it this season, along with Joe Blanton, Bruce Chen and Mike Minor.
Santana, who missed all of last season while rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, now has a 3.98 ERA in 110 1/3 innings through 19 starts this season. This includes an ugly 6.54 ERA in eight starts since he threw a career-high 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals back on June 1. Perhaps he was due to hit a wall at some point anyway, but given how much he has struggled recently, it’s hard not to look back to his workload from that historic evening in Queens.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.