Johan Santana's Best, Worst Moments as New York Mets Ace

Vinny MessanaCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2013

Johan Santana's Best, Worst Moments as New York Mets Ace

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    When the New York Mets traded for Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins in the offseason of 2008, most of the baseball world was shocked.

    Santana, after all, was a two-time Cy Young winner in the prime of his career. It did not seem that he was very interested in pitching for the Mets, nor did New York have the prospects to make a deal with the Twins.

    General manager Omar Minaya found a way to pull it off, and it paid off initially.

    Since then, however, Santana's career in New York has featured severe peaks and valleys. The latest valley is a re-tear of his anterior capsule, as first reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

    His career in New York is likely over—and potentially his career in baseball. Here are the best and worst moments of his Mets career. 

Best: September 27, 2008 3-Hit Shutout on 3 Days of Rest

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    The 2008 New York Mets were on the verge of completing a September collapse for the second consecutive season.

    They were facing the Florida Marlins, who seemed to take a great deal of pride in being the source of the Mets' pain.

    The Mets sent ace Johan Santana to the mound on three days' rest. Not just under normal circumstances either; he had previously thrown 125 pitches in an eight-inning effort against the Chicago Cubs.

    How did Johan respond? With a three-hit shutout in inclement weather to keep the Mets' chances alive for another day.

    Granted, they blew the season on the last day, but it was not due to Santana's effort.

Worst: May 2, 2010 Beating at the Hands of Philadelphia

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    Johan Santana was generally effective when healthy with the Mets. There were a few outings, however, that do not fall within the category of effective.

    One specific example was on May 2, 2010 in which he lasted only 3.2 innings, allowed eight hits, two walks and was charged with 10 runs (all earned) highlighted by a grand slam by Shane Victorino. He also allowed three other home runs.

    The outing raised Santana's ERA to 4.50 for the season. Santana was rarely victimized in such a way during his career, but this particular outing was painful to watch.   

Best: May 6, 2009 Dominant Start Against Philadelphia

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    It's hard to recall considering how dreadful they finished the season, but the 2009 Mets were very competitive in the first half of the season. Prior to virtually their entire team hitting the disabled list, they were in first place for most of the early months.

    Santana was very effective in the first half, and this May 6 start was one of his finest. In a game which featured a playoff atmosphere at Citi Field, Johan tossed seven shutout innings against the potent Phillies lineup while yielding only two hits and three walks and striking out 10.

    Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Rodriguez closed the door and improved Johan's record to 4-1 on the season. 

Worst: June 8, 2012 4 Home Runs Allowed Against NYY

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    At this point in the 2012 season, the Mets were still very much alive. They sat at six games over .500 and sent Santana to the hill to keep the Yankees at bay.

    Santana was coming off his no-hitter and working on back-to-back shutouts. Visions of Johnny Vander Meer were dancing through the heads of Mets fans.

    Instead, he allowed four home runs. Two of them were to Robinson Cano, while Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones each took him out of the yard.

    In total, Santana lasted five innings, allowing six runs and throwing 86 pitches. It was not the start the Mets had in mind.

Best: 1st No-Hitter in NYM History on June 1, 2012

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    It took 50 years and a bevy of one-hitters, but the Mets finally were on the positive side of a no-hitter. It came in the unlikeliest of scenarios. Not because of Johan's ability, but because he was coming off a significant injury and facing the defending World Series Champions in the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Santana hadn't thrown more than 100 pitches to that point and manager Terry Collins was unwilling to push him past 110. In this scenario, however, he began mowing down the hitters and convinced Collins to have the chance to complete history.

    He ended up having a couple of extremely close calls. Former Met Carlos Beltran barely missed a double down the line, but it was called a foul ball. A terrific Mike Baxter catch prevented another extra-base hit.

    Johan ended up walking five batters, but on pitch No. 134 he struck out David Freese to complete the no-no. 

Worst: Re-Tear of Anterior Capsule in Left Shoulder

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    The Mets had very few expectations for Santana entering the 2013 season. It was unreasonable to expect he would stay healthy for the first full season since 2008.

    It was shocking, however, that he could not even make it through spring training at full strength. Last season he was able to make it through the first half close to 100 percent prior to breaking down.

    Witnessing Santana at his best was something special. It is a shame that the Citi Field faithful will most likely be unable to experience it once again.