NEW YORK-- He spent eight seasons as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Now, three years later, Johan Santana faces his old club for the first time ever.
Santana was quite a dominant pitcher in Minnesota. He came up in 2000 and became a full-time starter in 2004, when he won 20 games and his first of two Cy Young Awards.
He was just unbelievable. He had one of the nastiest changeups the game had seen in over 50 years, and he was as big a strikeout pitcher as there was at the time.
Take a look at these numbers from his 2004 Cy Young season— they're jaw-dropping. That season, as a 25-year-old, Santana not only went 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA, but he allowed 72 less hits than innings pitched (156 to 228). He walked 54 and struck out an unbelievable 265 batters.
Since coming to the Mets in 2008, Santana has had his flashes of Minnesota dominance, but he hasn't been what those numbers show. He didn't have a bad first season, as he went 16-7 with a career-low 2.53 ERA, but his strikeouts have gone down every season since 2006.
His signature game as a New York Met came on September 27, 2008 when the Mets were on the brink of elimination. He threw a complete game against the Marlins to keep them alive for another day. That was done while pitching with a torn meniscus.
He missed his last nine starts of last season with elbow problems, and he has had surgery after both seasons with the Mets (2008 with the meniscus tear and 2009 with elbow chips).
Since he has been a Met, he has either gotten no run support, been taken out of games too early, or has blown leads in big games. Santana has also had his two worst career starts as a Met, last season against the Yankees and this season against the Phillies. The bottom line is the Mets haven't and, at this stage in his career, will never get the Santana of his heyday in Minnesota.
They will hope, though, that he can relive his Twins days today, as the Mets will go for another home series victory when they face former Yankee Carl Pavano.
Yankees fans despise Carl Pavano, and for good reason. After a dominating 2004 season with the Marlins, going 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA, the Yankees signed him that offseason to become a big part of their rotation.
He was injured at times in 2005 with the Yankees and when he pitched, he wasn't that great. He missed the entire 2006 season due to Tommy John surgery. When he came back in 2007, he made a grand total of two starts and missed the remainder of that season. He came back towards the end of 2008 and was horrible in his final seven starts as a Yankee. In his four seasons in the Bronx, Pavano went 9-8, with an ERA of 5.00.
After splitting time between the Indians and Twins last season, Pavano has done a good job this season. He pitched for the Twins in the 2009 playoffs.
It was clear, based on the quick turnaround, that Pavano used injuries as an excuse with the Yankees. He made all of his starts last season and is on his way to making them all this season.
So, this game is built with all sorts of pitching drama. Santana is facing the Twins for the first time ever and Pavano is back in New York as a rejuvenated pitcher. It will be intriguing, and for the Mets, they'd love to take this game to lock up another winning home stand.
Johan Santana this season (15 starts)
5-4, 3.31 ERA, 98 IP, 89 H, 31 BB, 62 SO
Carl Pavano vs. New York (career)
7-7, 3.60 ERA, 122.1 IP, 121 H, 29 BB, 65 SO
2010 season series (New York vs. Minnesota)
June 25: New York 5, Minnesota 2
Mets lead series 1-0