MLB Opening Day: Will Johan Santana bounce back in 2012?


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana hasn't started an MLB game since 2010, but he helped his team defeat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 on opening day. Photo by: Paul Hadsall / Flickr

When the New York Mets announced pitcher Johan Santana would be their opening day starter this season, I was a bit surprised.

My reaction wasn’t because Santana doesn’t have the talent to be the lackluster Mets’ ace, but because of his injury issues. I had to ask myself, ‘Would he be ready?’ Santana certainly proved that he was more than prepared, throwing five innings of scoreless ball against the Atlanta Braves in a 1-0 victory for New York on Thursday afternoon.

So how much confidence can baseball fans have in Santana now? After all, he faced a mediocre Braves offense in his first start. But even I — and avid Braves fan — have to tip my hat to Santana. Although Atlanta’s offense is a huge weakness within the squad, the former two-time Cy Young award gave up just two hits while striking out five in his first start since the lefty suffered a tear in the anterior capsule of his left shoulder repaired on Sept. 14, 2010.

Talk about a comeback start. So how long should we expect Santana to keep this sort of dominance up? It’s hard to say, considering this was New York’s first game of the season, but if can resemble the pitcher he once was — like he did in the Mets’ win over Atlanta — we should expect a lot from Santana this season.

New York manager Terry Collins seems to have confidence in Santana by making him the team’s No. 1 starter despite injury. Collins said Santana would throw no more than 100 pitches on opening day in an attempt to slowly figure out if he can return to tip-top form. And from what I saw from Santana in his first start, he may just be a dominant pitcher in a season where he was supposed to ease back into his former self.

For my love of the game, I wish Santana all the best this season. And although he defeated my beloved Braves in a dominant fashion, his bounce back start was good for the game. But who would’ve thought that the lefty was going to debut like this? I certainly didn’t. It’s just goes to show that on any given day, if a baseball player can reach deep and find that talent which made them a pro in the first place, anything is possible. It may be early in the season and Santana may still be facing a lot of doubt. I wasn’t the only one to have those feelings. So to conclude this opening day blog post, here’s a look at Santana’s projected stats for 2012 via rotochamp.com. They may seem deceiving, but these numbers are fair. However, I think he will prove to be a much better player than what these statistics and fantasy baseball numbers show:

System Position Team IP W L Saves ERA WHIP K Walks Value
RotoChamp SP NYM 150 8 7 0 3.66 1.18 117 41 $2
FanGraphs Fans SP NYM 147 10 7 0 3.49 1.27 111 42 $1
ZIPS SP NYM 91 6 4 0 3.56 1.22 69 24 $-0
Composite-Fantasy411 SP NYM 133 8 7 0 3.53 1.21 103 37 $3
Steamer SP NYM 124 7 9 0 4.41 1.37 92 37 $-4
Composite-Other SP NYM 138 8 7 0 3.33 1.25 100 38 $1
CAIRO SP NYM 140 7 8 0 3.30 1.17 110 39 $8
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