June 1, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (57) reacts after throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. Mets won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Appreciation for Johan Santana

With the tremendous starting pitching depth the Mets have assembled coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the future of Johan Santana, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that (according to Andy Martino) the Mets will not be bringing Santana back in 2014.

Santana was a huge part of the Mets starting with his arrival from Minnesota via trade prior to the 2008 season, and is someone who is worthy of us pausing to recognize what he accomplished here.

When Santana was acquired in exchange for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra, Mets fans thought that his arrival would wipe the memories of the 2007 collapse away – rendering it a mere speed bump on the way to future Mets glory.

Santana did his part in 2008, tossing 234.1 innings and posting a 2.53 ERA, but the Mets’ bullpen did them in down the stretch as the club was again eliminated from contention on the last day of the season.

Not to be forgotten, however, is the complete game gem Santana tossed in game 161 of the 2008 campaign with a torn meniscus in his knee.  It was the last game the Mets ever won at Shea Stadium, kept the season alive, and embodied all that Johan was about.

In both 2009 and 2010, Santana was damn good, posting ERA’s of 3.13 and 2.98 respectively.  However, after 2010, he underwent surgery on his shoulder for a torn anterior capsule.  It was a surgery that was extremely invasive and rare for pitchers, and Johan missed the entire 2011 campaign while rehabbing.

In 2012, Santana made it back to the mound.  His fastball was down a few ticks, but the bulldog mentality remained.  On June 1st at Citi Field, Santana tossed the first no-hitter in Mets history, forever etching his name in Mets lore.  It was an incredible moment, made even more remarkable by the surgery Santana had recently recovered from.

Unfortunately for Santana and the Mets, his 2012 campaign ended prematurely, when he again injured his shoulder.  People continue to try to link the amount of pitches Santana threw during his no-hitter to the injury, but his game log tells a different story.  Regardless, Santana missed the end of 2012 and all of 2013 again recovering from surgery.

Still rehabbing from his second major shoulder surgery, Santana hopes to be able to return to the mound in 2014.  He should never be discounted, and it will be a thrill to watch if he is able to make it back again.

It should be noted that during his time with the Mets, Santana actually posted a lower ERA (3.18) than he did for the Twins (3.22).  He was tremendous when he was on the field.  Like many pitchers, though, injuries eventually got the better of him.

As a team, the Mets didn’t achieve what they hoped to achieve while Santana was on the roster.  That’s no fault of Johan’s, though.

Good luck, Johan.  Thanks for Game 161, the no-hitter, the ferocity, the determination, and for being one of the best pitchers the Mets ever had.


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Tags: Johan Santana New York Mets

  • Victor Chu

    Danny — thanks for reminding us what Santana accomplished as a Met. He does not get enough credit for being a great Mets pitcher simply b/c he was hurt for 2+ seasons. 1st of all, with a better bullpen, Santana could have easily been a 20-game winner for his 1st and third seasons with the Mets. And, he was still pretty darn good in 2009 despite only 25 starts.

    As for the impact of the 6/1/12 game on Johan’s subsequent performance, I agree that his game log (and the actually games I watched him pitch) tell a different story … in fact, he only really started to go downhill after he was stepped on covering 1st base during a game against the Cubs — to me, that was the unfortunate turning point of his season, as he was a completely different (i.e., bad) pitcher during and after that game … I venture to guess that he compensated for that injury somehow by altering his mechanics and eventually hurt his shoulder further.

    Prior to that Cubs game, IMO, Johan’s only had 3 “bad” games out of 16 starts for an ERA of 2.76, which was pretty damn good. His arm may have been (understandably) tired for the two games immediately after the no-hitter, but he was essentially back to being Johan for the subsequent 3 games leading up to that Cubs game.
    All-in-all, despite the injuries, Johan was definitely one of the best pitchers in Mets history, especially when he was on the field. If you exclude his last 5 games as a Met, Johan essentially had a sub 3.00 ERA during his tenure with the Mets … how many pitchers not named Seaver can stake that claim and also started more than 100 games for our team?
    If we had to do it all over again, I doubt there are many who wouldn’t trade for and sign Johan for the same contract today … although, having Carlos Gomez would be nice …