Is It Time to Start Worrying About Johan Santana?

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Just over a month ago, Johan Santana did the unthinkable and threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. While in the moment, fans pushed for Terry Collins to leave him in to complete the no-hitter despite a high pitch count. Collins had a dilemma and let everyone know that he would feel awful if the 135-pitch no-hitter had a negative impact on Santana’s health in the future.

Though Mets fans were ecstatic about the no-no, many are far less impressed with Johan as of late. The man who came off serious shoulder surgery has an ERA of 6.54 and a record of 3-5 since throwing the no-hitter on June 1. He has allowed 6 or more earned runs in 3 straight starts, earning him a 13.54 ERA in 3 straight losing decisions.

This is the worst stretch of Santana’s career and many are beginning to question how much the southpaw has left in the tank after the shoulder surgery. Certainly he is not the pitcher he was in Minnesota, but his recent struggles are concerning as the Mets are beginning to question how much left they will get from him with $25.5 million owed to him next season. It will cost New York another $6 million to buy out his contract after the 2013 season, totaling a $31.5 million investment in a fading Santana.

It is clear that he needs rest as he looks tired on the mound and he is missing his spots badly. Maybe the Mets might decide to put him on the 15-day DL to give him some time to recover from whatever seems to be bothering him. While Santana insists there is nothing wrong with him physically, you have to think that Johan’s ultimate competitive attitude is holding him back from admitting that he is injured.

Whether he is simply hitting a rough patch or suffering from an injury, the Mets have to be concerned about what they are seeing from their $25+ million ace. At this point the team cannot trade him because there is no one out there who would take on such a large contract for a 33-year old pitcher that is coming off major shoulder surgery.

As Mets fans speculate on Johan’s future with the Mets, Matt Harvey looms in AAA Buffalo. Worst case scenario Harvey takes Santana’s place in the rotation and he gets to gain some major league experience without the pressure of competing for a playoff spot.

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