My Concern For Santana Continues To Grow

Posted on by Kerel Cooper

A few weeks back I blogged about some concerns I had regarding Johan Santana. After his most recent performance against the Minnesota Twins my concern for Santana is growing. Watch the video below as I dig a little deeper into some of Santana’s stats that are the main cause of my concern.

Question For Mets Bloggers: I know Santana’s velocity is down and he doesn’t have a strike-out pitch anymore but how much of his struggles yesterday do you think are due to the fact that he was playing against his old teammates who know him inside and out?

Answer: Dave Doyle –  Mets Report

I think there are several factors to yesterday’s (Saturday) poor game by Santana.

  1. He’s either in decline or just having a bad season. Either way, a portion of his poor performance yesterday can be attributed to this phenomenon. His velocity is down and that’s a major detriment to the effectiveness of his change-up. Not to mention the fact that his control appears to be diminished.
  2. The Twins, as an organization, know what Santana is doing as well as anyone outside of the Mets organization. I’m sure they had just as much, if not more, information for their hitters on Santana than the pitchers they face regularly in the AL Central.
  3. This is the first start he’s made since the rape allegation against him became public. It’s difficult to quantify, but having this situation splashed all over the news has to have some kind of impact on him. I’m sure he’s been having discussions all week with his management team, specialized PR crisis management firms, and his wife and family about it.

Answer: Joe Janish – Mets Today

You bring up a point worth considering / adding to the equation Santana last played for the Twins in 2007. From Saturday’s lineup, his former teammates from that team included:

  • Joe Mauer
  • Justin Morneau
  • NIck Punto
  • Michael Cuddyer
  • Jason Kubel
  • Those players were a combined 5-for-20 (.250) vs. Johan … though, they did drive in 3 of the runs against him. (I’m not counting runs scored by them because I don’t believe touching home plate has much to do with familiarity with a pitcher.)

    It could be argued that these 5 players “know” Santana — and further, that they told the other guys in the lineup what to look for. Just as likely, the Twins’ coaching staff and scouts could have put together a very thorough scouting report for all the hitters. But, his five former teammates never faced Santana before, except in practice / intrasquad sessions.

    There’s a big difference in knowing how a pitcher thinks and seeing his pitches from the batter’s box. In fact I can say from experience that CATCHING a pitcher often gave me little benefit if I ever faced that pitcher as a batter — because the angle of seeing the ball is completely different when you’re standing to the side and not sitting behind home plate. Additionally, the time / distance you have to see and track the ball is shortened considerably — by at least three feet and several milliseconds.

    Just as importantly, the information these players and the coaching staff have are based on three years ago — when Santana was throwing at least 4-5 MPH harder and when his breaking pitch had more bite. The 2010 version of Santana is much different from that of 2007.

    And then there is the obvious: Santana isn’t pitching all that well against anyone lately. Even in his “good” starts this year, we all agree that his velocity is down, his command is way off, his slider is non-existent, his pitch counts are way up, and he’s generally getting by on grit and guile. To me he looked like the “same old Santana” we’ve seen all season — the guy who “didn’t have his best stuff”.

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