Saturday, June 21, 2014

Contemplating Johan Santana

Johan Santana finishes his 2012 no-hitter for the Mets.
It remains the only no-hitter in franchise history.
The Twins have a Yohan (Pino). They have a Santana (Danny). But they don't have a Johan Santana.

Nobody does anymore.

This is a couple weeks old, but I hadn't gotten around to noting or commenting on it. Earlier this month, the former Twins ace and two-time Cy Young winner tore his Achilles tendon fielding a ball. The Baltimore Orioles general manager described the tendon as "severed."

So Santana's 2014 comeback is finished — and just before he was about to return to the show. A few days before the injury, he and the Orioles had agreed to push back his call-up deadline a bit, but he was close. By now, I believe, he would be getting a chance in the O's rotation.

Santana is 35, and since his first major shoulder surgery after the 2010 season he has just 21 starts and 117 innings, all in 2012. (And a no-hitter, and a second major shoulder surgery.)

 In his rehab outings this spring, he was short of even the velocity he had in 2012, and that was a good bit short of his velocity in his glory days with the Twins. But he was getting into the upper 80s — the territory of Yohan's fastball — and with the quality of his changeup, that would be usable.

It would be if his body would just let him use it. I believe Santana is one of those talented, intelligent pitchers whose "pitchability" exceeds his body's capacity. If he can take the mound, he can be effective, but how often can he take the mound?

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