Originally posted on MetsZilla  |  Last updated 8/13/12

Saturday night, during the New York Mets 9-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, starter Johan Santana allowed eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings — matching the shortest start of his career –  in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

For those of us hoping a trip to the DL would allow Johan to return to his pre-no-hitter form, we were sorely mistaken as his downward spiral continues.  The 33-year-old lefty boasted a 2.38 ERA after his 134 pitch no-no against the Cards on June 1st, but that number has almost doubled given his recent struggles.

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Johan Santana’s numbers since the June 1 no-hitter: Starts: 9. Innings: 44. Hits: 61. Home Runs: 11. BB: 18. K: 39. ERA: 6.54. August 12, 2012 6:38 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite @Buster_ESPN Buster Olney

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Get this — in Santana’s last four starts, he’s thrown 14 innings, allowed 36 hits and 27 earned runs. Has a 17.36 ERA. #mets August 11, 2012 7:54 pm via TweetDeckReplyRetweetFavorite @HaleMark Mark Hale

Following Saturday’s disaster, Santana cited rust, not injury for his poor start, saying:

I’m fine. It’s just one of those nights where I didn’t execute pitches the way they’re supposed to be executed. But overall I felt fine. I didn’t feel anything in my ankle or my shoulder. I felt good. It’s just over three weeks not facing any hitters at this level and then trying to command all of your pitches, it wasn’t my best. I think as I continue I’ll make some progress and improve my command. Because I think I left some pitches up in the strike zone against a good team. And when you make mistakes like that, that’s what’s going to happen. And I think that was the case tonight.”

Meanwhile, in the Daily News, Anthony McCarron writes the Mets are going nowhere and should consider shutting Santana down for the season:

At this point in an already-lost 2012 season, the most meaningful question about Santana’s start was whether it ended so soon because he stunk or because he was hurt. More significant than Santana’s dreadful performance — 1.1 innings, eight runs, eight hits — was the fact that he said afterward that he felt no twinges in either his surgically repaired left shoulder or the right ankle that had put him on the shelf in July.

Yes, Mets fans, it’s come to this: Hope the key players don’t get hurt. Maybe they can help next season.

All kidding aside, Santana making it intact through the final six weeks or so is vitally important to the Mets. It’s all about 2013 now around Citi Field — or at least it should be — and the Mets need Santana to be a big part of next year, if they hope to be anything more than they are now.

In fact, the Mets ought to think hard about shutting down Santana if that would enhance the chance he’d be back to the guy who was brilliant in the first two months of the season.”

Photo by Michael G. Baron

McCarron makes a great point.  It’s now time to start evaluating player and looking towards next season, a concept Mets fans have become all to familiar with.  Santana, I would believe, is part of those plans, especially when you consider how hard his contract will be to trade in the off-season.  After serious shoulder surgery this offseason — one that many pitchers have a hard time recovering from — the Mets need to consider shutting Santana down in hopes he can return to his early season form, next season.  When asked about the possibility, Johan did not rule it out.

“I’m hoping to finish the season pitching, but I don’t know what, later on, what’s going to happen,” Santana said. “We’ll see.”

Yes.  We will see.  But I am sure one more rocky start and a continued losing trend, the Mets front office might just cut the left hander’s season short.  Santana has now allowed at least six runs in each of his last four starts, putting him in a select club, one which I’m sure he’s not happy to be a member.

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Santana becomes only the third pitcher in Mets history to allow 6+ runs in 4 straight starts, joining Al Leiter and Pedro Astacio August 11, 2012 7:44 pm via TweetDeckReplyRetweetFavorite @AdamRubinESPN Adam Rubin

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