Johan Santana’s 13 hits allowed against the lowly Chicago Cubs on July 6 tied a career-worst mark and provided further evidence that he’s not the same pitcher since notching a no-hitter last month.
Like most people, I do not think it’s a stamina problem from the no hitter. I think Santana has lost his “swagger”, and mound persona. You just don’t have that same feeling anymore that he’s putting 150% in every single pitch. I’m use to seeing a gamer out there, who doesn’t stop fighting until he puts another tally in the W column.
However, there is a very good chance last night, like the Braves game earlier in the season, Santana just couldn’t get loose. It could have been just more difficult for him to settle in last night, and he got hurt with some weak “get me over fastballs, and change-ups”. But I think it is more mental than Physical at this point, and that’s why I think Santana won’t have any difficulty turning it around in the second half of the season.
We all know that Santana doesn’t have that incredible “Young Santana” stuff, but he has been able to work well with his pitches this season because he has been smart and just a flat out gamer. When he was pitching well this season it wasn’t because he was overpowering people, but instead knew what the hitter was looking for and would throw what he wasn’t prepared for, keeping hitters off balanced all game.
But, when I say Santana has lost his “swagger” and mound persona, I do think he can retrieve it. I think last night could have been good for Johan. He can now watch the all-star game, look in the mirror and say to himself that we are in a real playoff race, and the team is going nowhere without me. Santana has got to understand that without him there is no playoffs, and without him putting all he has into every start the season with crumble away from the Mets control. Johan Santana is the real X-Factor in this rotation. With the way Niese and Dickey have been pitching, the Mets need Santana to complete the “big three” in the rotation.