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So, Johan Santana’s no-hitter was still worth it, right?

Aug 22, 2012, 6:25 PM EDT

Johan Santana Getty Images

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.

  1. uuddlrlrbastart - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    In his first five starts after the no-hitter, Santana had an ERA of 3.60 with 25 Ks in 30 innings. That included a three-game stretch where he gave up a total of two runs.

    I think the bigger issue has been his ankle injury suffered on July 6. That’s when he really fell apart this year. He had given up 2 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings that game. He injured his ankle the fist batter of the 5th inning and gave up 5 runs and 6 hits and only recorded one out (a second out came on the basepaths). He hasn’t pitched well since.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      Fun with endpoints… I’ll play!!

      In the first two starts after the no-hitter, Santana had a 9.00 ERA. In the first six starts after the no-hitter, Santana had a 4.93 ERA.

      The ankle injury definitely did play a huge role in the sixth start; best if he had exited as soon as he was hurt. I guess we can throw that one out if you’d like. But Johan’s stuff wasn’t the same after the no-hitter. Does anyone really disagree?

      • stabonerichard - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        The high pitch effort to complete the no-no definitely did not help Johan. Like any strenuous activity, each subsequent rep becomes a little more taxing on the body than the last. So when these guys get up to 110, 115, 120 pitches that’s when the red light starts flashing. For better or worse, the way starters & bullpens are managed in today’s game, these guys’ arm/elbow/shoulder aren’t conditioned to go beyond that point.

      • uuddlrlrbastart - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        In his four starts before the no-hitter his ERA was 4.15. In his five starts after the no-hitter his BABIP was .244. In his next five starts it was .486 (and well over .500 if you start with the ankle injury). In 10 starts prior to the no-hitter, his K/BB was 60/16 in 59 innings. In 10 starts after, it was 43/18 in 49 innings. Let me know when we have enough data to say anything definitive because I’m not seeing it.

      • dondada10 - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM

        You new around here, uudd? I like your style.

      • dan1111 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:47 AM

        I have to agree with the naysayers here. This is the worst kind of second-guessing.

        Even if we agree with the (highly suspect) assertion that Santana’s struggles were caused by a high pitch count in one start, the Mets didn’t know this was going to be the outcome. The decision they had to make in real time was “should we trade a slight risk of injury for letting a player accomplish one of the crowning achievements of his career, as well as one of the greatest moments in the history of our ballclub?” The answer is yes, that is a trade-off you make 11 times out of 10.

        What if the Mets had done the opposite, and taken Santana out after 7 or 8 no-hit innings? Does anyone, and I mean ANYONE, think that Mr. Pouliot would have approved of that decision? And that really says it all.

    • sharklady1 - Aug 31, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      What we also have to remember is what Terry Collins has said: Johan started rehabbing in November and December, 2-3 months before any other pitcher would pick up a baseball. Therefore, his arm is tired. This off-season Johan will do what every other pitcher in the major league does: nothing. He will be ready next season, no doubt about it. The man is a warrior and if anyone can fully come back from this type of major shoulder surgery, Johan can. I was fortunate enough to be at Citi Field for the no-hitter. The only word I can use to describe it is “magical” because it’s something you can’t plan for; it just happens. Incredible experience for this diehard Mets fan. I believe in 2014 we’ll be a championship-caliber team (providing, of course, that the kids in the minors aren’t traded away), ready to take on the Nats and the Braves.

  2. butchhuskey - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Santana has had seasons where he’s led the league in innings pitched and usually pitched 220-230 innings while with the Twins, so I don’t know what you mean by “never really a workhorse”

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      True, that was probably the wrong word to use. Obviously, I was talking on a game-to-game basis, so I probably should have come up with something else.

      • dondada10 - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:18 PM

        “…so I probably should have come up with something else.”

        Look on the bright side: it’s not the worst comment you’ve made today.

    • stabonerichard - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:09 PM

      Yep, during his first 5 full seasons as a starter (’04-’08) Johan averaged 230 IP per season. I’m pretty sure he logged more innings during that 5-year stretch than any pitcher in baseball. It was part of the reason, as a Twins fan, I was glad they didn’t offer the kind of money it would have taken to match the big market clubs & ultimately keep him. It was a shame to see him go, but it’s just not realistic to expect pitchers to maintain that type or workload, at an elite level of performance, over a full decade and beyond thru the duration of his mega-contract.

      Dude was definitely a workhorse though; he won two Cy Young awards and got jobbed out of another when the voters opted for Bartolo Colon. Also, in his first year in the NL he led the league in both IP & ERA, yet failed to win the CY.

      Injury caught up to him soon after, and his days as a workhorse are now in the rearview mirror.

  3. keithbangedyermom - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    That is some lazy writing there Pouliot. Wow. Maybe we should take a look at that ankle injury instead, seeing how that was a documented injury and not a half-baked theory like the ‘the 135 pitches caused it!’ argument.

    Word of advice, if you don’t want to be labeled a hack, come up with a more original and thoughtful post. All you are doing is regurgitating what other lazy journalists post.

  4. chill1184 - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Ah got to love how the MSM just loves to troll the same mindless talk point over and over.

  5. butchhuskey - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    I think it’s clear that injury and fatigue are the reasons for his struggles- blaming it on the no-hitter alone is silly

    • Francisco (FC) - Aug 23, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Well this IS Matthew, he’s the one HBT writer who wrote about five or six posts about the whole Blue Jays stealing signs and the Man in White and the ESPN report. Man sure is gullible. BTW whatever happened to that story? Oh it got nowhere. Great Journalism there Pouliot.

  6. fearlessleader - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    After the lawsuit post, if Pouliot REALLY wanted to be popular today, he would have added a concluding sentence along the lines of “And just think, it wasn’t even really a no-hitter, thanks to that blown call at third!”

    [DISCLAIMER: I am a Cardinal fan and I totally think it was a no-hitter. Hold your fire.]

    • keithbangedyermom - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:17 PM

      Beltran’s comments after the game we’re dead on. It was a bang-bang play and if the ump said it was foul, then it was foul.

      Yes, of course it was fair. But let’s not pretend this was the first time ever there was a controversial play that kept a no hitter in tact.

  7. Glenn - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Still, one imagines there will be enough left over for shiny new cars and island getaways for Santana after he fails to match expectations of his huge contract.

    • keithbangedyermom - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      well played

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