On June 1, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. It was glorious. It also took him 134 pitches. Since that date, his performance is appreciably worse. His ERA is over two and a half runs per game higher, he’s striking out fewer batters, walking more and giving up more hits and more homeruns.
|Opening Day – June 1||2.38||11/11||68||49||20||18||4||21||68||0||.200||.262||.306|
|June 8 – July 15||5.67||7/7||39.67||46||25||25||9||14||34||0||.291||.345||.544|
|Opening Day – May 26||2.8||9.0||3.2||0.5||6.5||2.6||7.7||25.1||6.2||271|
|June 1 – July 15||3.2||7.7||2.4||2.0||10.4||5.7||8.0||19.5||5.7||174|
It’s entirely possible that the decline in Santana’s performance has absolutely nothing to do with the 134 pitches he threw to earn his place in the Mets record books. This could be selective end-point silliness. It could be random variance over 11 and seven starts periods, but that seems a little unlikely. It could be that regardless of how many pitches he threw on May 26th, and on June 1 in back-to-back nine-inning shutouts, he would lose his effectiveness later in the 2012 season. That seems likelier. He might bounce right back to the early-season 2012 Johan level. He might not.
This is not intended as a criticism of Terry Collins who acknowledged the potential damage to Santana immediately after the no-hitter and found he simply could not take his superstar out of game while chasing history. Collins was in an impossible position. There was no guarantee that had he pulled Santana after, say the seventh inning, costing his star and his team a chance at history, that Santana would have been better over the duration of 2012. Collins was worried about Santana five days after the no-no. Well, five weeks later, perhaps the no-hitter’s price is clear.
Nope. This is a story about Santana and the Mets. For the Mets to stay in contention in 2012, they need the Santana of old, something approximating the Cy Young Award winner, and the guy who was lights out for the Mets early in 2012.