The Not-So-Curious Case of Johan Santana

Vinny Messana@v1nsaneCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 15:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets pitches to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Following his June 1 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, Johan Santana's ERA stood at an impressive 2.38.

It currently stands at 3.98 after another six-run outing—his third consecutive.

Some attribute it to his missed time last season while others will point to his career-high pitch total during his historic night.

To me, it is no secret.

Whenever Johan Santana is struggling, he is suffering from a chronic pain which could require season-ending surgery.

Obviously, it's not good news for the Mets who have followed his annual injuries with free falls comparable to Enron.

Many people considered any contribution from Santana to be a bonus this season considering his arduous journey back from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.

I have seen enough from Johan and followed his career enough to know that a healthy Santana is an effective Santana.

Rarely—if ever—does Johan Santana get embarrassed on the mound, and when he is healthy those duds because rarer than Rick Ross missing a meal.

Clearly, since his no-hitter Johan has been pedestrian.

The first two starts were especially dismal--two duds against the cross-town New York Yankees which featured a home run parade.

Next was his uneven start against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He responded with stellar outings in Chicago and Los Angeles to lower the ERA to 2.76 and re-instilling confidence that the poor starts were an anomaly.

His next start was in Citi Field against the Chicago Cubs once again. After a poor first inning he regained his composure until Reed Johnson stepped on his ankle while covering first base on July 6.

It was clear he was uncomfortable and he was tagged with 13 hits and 7 ER in just 4.2 innings pitched.

Johan has always took responsibility for his poor performances and never blames injuries.

That is partly why he has such an impact on the Mets, not just because of his terrific pitching ability, but because he is a leader and the team takes on his mentality when he is performing.

From a Mets' fan perspective, I have seen this episode far too many times to remain optimistic.

Santana's presence in 2009 and 2010 helped the Mets to remain in contention through the All-Star break prior to hitting the DL, with the Mets' season proceeding to crash and burn simultaneously.

Santana has139 MLB wins against 76 losses—he is a proven winner—but when he begins to fade there is generally a major health reason.

Now, he can come off the disabled list when he is eligible but I believe the Mets will announce that they are "being cautious" with his return which will inevitably end up with several weeks missed.

I really hope my prediction does not come to fruition but it seems evident to me that Johan will be out for an extended time, the already-thin rotation will scuffle mightily and the Mets will find themselves on the cusp of irrelevancy in the NL wild card race by July 31.

Formula 1= 57 (Johan's number) + 34 (full season of starts) = 91 (Mets win total)

Formula 2= 20 (days of disabled list) - 10 (quality opponents prior to deadline) = 10 (games behind wild card leader).