From 2002-2010, Johan Santana was arguably Major League Baseball’s best pitcher. He won 120 games, finished every season with an ERA of 3.33 or lower, won two Cy Young Awards, and struck out 200+ batters in five straight season from 2004-2008. He was downright dominant for a stretch, and featured the game’s best change-up over the course of those nine seasons.
In 2009 and 2010, Santana was still effective, finishing both seasons with ERA around 3.00, but his velocity dropped, and he made frequent visits to the DL with shoulder tendonitis. Toward the end of 2010, Santana finally had enough with his ailing shoulder, and had surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, a surgery that Santana wasn’t assured of coming back from.
In a way he hasn’t. Santana missed the entire 2011 season before coming back in 2012 to post his worst season as a major leaguer, going 6-9 for the Mets with a 4.85 ERA that year.
It wasn’t all bad. On June 1, in only his the eleventh start since returning from shoulder surgery, Santana threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champions. It was the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history, coming in their 51st season and 8,020th regular season game. Some consider it to be the last shining moment in Santana’s career after he re-tore his shoulder capsule in his throwing arm prior to the 2013 season, forcing him to miss the entire season and leaving his future in question.
But Santana is currently on the comeback trail. According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, a reunion between Santana and the Twins remains a real possibility and a few other teams have shown interest in a minor league deal for the left hander as well. It’s not too farfetched that Santana could pitch his way into a major league rotation this spring.
Still only 34-years-old, Santana has a chance to do something few have done.
Come back from two shoulder surgeries. But only time will tell.
Shawn Ferris is a MLB, NFL, and Fantasy Sports writer for sportstalkflorida.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealShawnFerris.