Will Santana’s Historic No-No Jeopardize Performance Moving Forward?

By Kevin Baez

On June 1st, 2012, Johan Santana earned a special place in Mets’ history: First pitcher in franchise history to throw a no-hitter. After undergoing surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule, many throughout the baseball world believed Santana’s best days as a pitcher were long behind him, questioning whether his career could continue. However, defying all odds, Santana has come back healthy and strong to once again be referred to as the number one starter of the Mets’ starting rotation.

In the process of shutting down St. Louis — one of the National League’s top offenses — Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches. After closely monitoring Santana’s pitch count in an attempt to preserve his health after major surgery, manager Terry Collins hesitantly elected to throw away the pitch count limitations on Santana, given the unique circumstances. Although, Collins — who told Santana after the game he was his hero — allowed Santana to go the distance, it certainly wasn’t an easy decision for him to make, explaining to reporters after the game:

"“I certainly wanted it for him. I wanted it for the organization and for all of those people that were here tonight. You just don’t jeopardize the whole organization, or this season, for one inning.”"

Because of the heavy workload placed on Santana’s surgically repaired shoulder during his historic performance, Collins decided to give Santana an additional two days of rest before making his next start. In spite of this, Santana has struggled in the two starts after throwing his first career no-hitter.

Santana’s Performances After June 1, 2012

Date  Opponent    IP    Hits  ER    BB    SO

6/8    @ Yankees    5       7       6        1       5

6/14    @ Rays         5       6       4        4      6

In both starts, Santana got hit hard, as he gave up four home runs against the Yankees and failed to get out of the sixth-inning against the Rays, despite New York scoring eight runs to support Santana. He told reporters he felt good during his start against the Rays, despite not having his best command of his signature changeup.

Personally, all that matters to me is that is he is healthy. As long as he is healthy I am confident he will get back into the groove he once was in prior to the no-hitter. During Santana’s last start against the Rays, Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez voiced his concern over whether or not the differential between his changeup and fastball — which now sits around 88-89 mph instead of the lower to mid 90’s fastball he once had as a member of the Minnesota Twins — would be enough to allow him to be effective pitcher.

I don’t think it will be an issue for Santana, because of the fact that is a veteran. Pitching is a lot than just speed. There is a big difference between being a thrower and a pitcher. The art of pitching involves changing your speed and hitting your spots.  Being the veteran Santana is, I am sure he will figure out a way to overcome his recent struggles. After all, he has already overcome possibly  the biggest adversity  an athlete can be faced with, anytime potential career-threatening surgery is part of the conversion.

Tonight, in his first start home start since throwing the no-hitter, I am confident Santana will have all the support in the world from Mets’ fans in attendance of tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, as he gets back on track and aims to help New York get consecutive wins against another American League East opponent.