Never really a workhorse, Johan Santana threw 134 pitches in his no-hitter on June 1, topping his previous career high by nine. Coming back from shoulder surgery, he hadn’t thrown more than 108 pitches in a start this season, as the Mets were being extra cautious with him until the night he had a chance to accomplish something no other pitcher in franchise history had done.
We all know what happened next. Santana has made 10 starts since the no-hitter and gone 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA. On Wednesday, the Mets made the decision to place him on the DL with back inflammation, ending his season. The league hit .327/.377/.587 with 13 homers off him in 49 innings during the worst stretch of his career.
The Mets were 29-23 at the conclusion of the no-hitter, putting them just one game back of the Nationals in the NL East. They’re 28-43 since. At 57-66, they’re 20 games back of the Nationals and 10 games out of the second wild card spot.
So, it was worth it, I’d say. Let’s face it: even if Santana were 7-3 instead of 3-7 since the no-hitter, the Mets wouldn’t be in the race. That’s not to say his struggles are completely isolated from the team as a whole’s; he’s definitely added extra strain to the bullpen with his short outings and he did miss a couple of starts while on the disabled list. But the Mets still weren’t going to be in the think of the playoff hunt with a good Johan.
No, we don’t even know for sure that Santana’s problems began with the no-hitter, but it would be a pretty big coincidence. Fortunately for the Mets, he hasn’t complained of arm woes. His first DL stint was due to an ankle injury, and now it’s the back being used as an excuse. Certainly, arm fatigue has been a factor, but with the Mets shutting him down, there’s no chance of anything else going wrong.
Six months ago, the Mets really had no idea what they’d get from Santana this year. I’d imagine they have to be pleased with the results, even though he’s now finished up at 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. Not only did they get one lasting memory, but he had enough success early on that they can be pretty confident about an improved showing in 2013.