Johan Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation of his lower back and the New York Mets ace is done for the season. That decision was made prior to the Mets latest loss, 5-2 to the last place Colorado Rockies at Citi Field Wednesday night.
And, because Santana had been ineffective in his last six starts this is a major reason why New York is one game away from last place in the National league east. There are other reasons attributed as to why the team continues to sink further with the lack of hitting and a torrid bullpen.
But since that historic no-hitter by Santana on June 1st, first in the Mets 50-year existence, he has not been the same pitcher. The team has not been the same when Santana fell apart as he seemed to inspire the hitting and propel the pitching staff.
“Something is not right and they don’t want it to get worse,” said a dismal Santana to the media when results of the MRI to his back were revealed. There had been speculation he would get the bad news, and shutting him down for the season makes perfect sense.
The Mets are out of contention and would want the left hander healthy and ready for 2013. He is due $31 million next year which includes a buyout for the following season. The back problem is not related to shoulder surgery, extensive rehab assignments, or a stint on the DL in July due to a sprained right ankle.
And GM Sandy Alderson, along with Santana, said his latest ailment had nothing to do with a career high 134-pitch count when he pitched the no-hitter before the home crowd at Citi Field.
“That’s a long time ago and this just happened a couple days ago,” explained Santana, knocking down any speculation that the high pitch count contributed to his back problem.
He added, “It’s tough to go back and look at that no-hitter and blame it for this.”
Since that no-hitter, Santana is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA in 10 starts, allowing six runs in his last five starts, 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA. Not numbers that reflect a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Thus the speculation, something was wrong as Santana said he began experiencing tightness a few weeks ago and it progressed during his last start at Washington last week. After he threw a bullpen session Monday, he addressed the issue with team personnel and a decision was made to undergo an MRI.
The 33-year old Santana was scheduled to start the finale of a four-game series against the Rockies Thursday afternoon. He will be replaced on the roster by right hander Collin McHugh. The 25-year old was promoted from Triple- A Buffalo where he went 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.
Surgery will not be required, just rest and medication and that had Santana and Alderson relieved as it is not a disc problem that has caused the inflammation.
“I want to keep pitching,” commented Santana. I felt I could pitch, but at the same time I am listening to them.”
It is not the starting pitching that has caused New York to lose the first three of four games against the Rockies. They got two quality starts Monday and Tuesday night from R.A. Dickey and Chris Young before the bullpen and sloppy fielding gave the games away.
And, Wednesday night it was the same situation as the Rockies won their seventh straight game at Citi Field. Rookie Matt Harvey, with a fastball clocked over 95, struck out nine Rockies in six innings. He gave up three hits.
New York fell to 57-67, lost their fourth straight and ten games below the .500 mark for the first time since finishing that way in the 2009 season. The numbers have not been good since the all-star break, 11-27, worst in baseball, and the team has scored two or fewer runs in five consecutive games something that has not happened since the 2003 season.
“I feel like there’s more that I could’ve done and more I could’ve helped the team with like going eight innings and not giving up a run would’ve been nice,” said Harvey.
But Mets manager Terry Collins realizes Harvey has an entire career ahead, and 102 pitches was more than enough for the flame thrower.
“Extremely impressed tonight with the way he handled himself, pitching out of trouble , electric stuff again,” said Collins. “During an absolute brutal stretch there’s been a bright spot and he’s been one of them.”
Harvey has 43 strikeouts in his first six games which surpassed the club record of Nolan Ryan of 42. So there is something to look forward to for the Mets when it comes to pitching with or without Santana.
To that Collins said, “And we think we got some more coming.” Time will tell as the 2012 season in other ways becomes more miserable for the Mets and their fans.