It’s time for the Mets to shut down Johan Santana

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Johan Santana gave up six runs in five innings to the Nationals on Friday, sending him to his fifth straight loss in a 6-4 game. He’s allowed 33 runs in 19 innings that span, taking his season ERA from 2.76 to 4.83.

The Mets didn’t want to admit it and trade veterans away before the deadline, but they’re playing for 2013 at this point. And given that they’re set to pay Santana a whopping $25.5 million next year, it’d make sense to give him the best possible chance to enter the season healthy. That would mean shutting him down now.

There’s no way to know whether it was truly cause and effect, but the fact is that Santana hasn’t been the same pitcher since throwing a career-high 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1. Even the break he got last month when he served a DL stint due to a sprained ankle didn’t do him any good; he’s been lit up in both outings since.

Again, there’s really no good that can come from having Santana continue to take the mound. It’s time to save those bullets for 2013, when they might actually matter.