Johan’s Return: An Unscientific Prediction
I must preface this post by reminding everyone that neither the fan base as a whole nor myself are privy to every bit of information about Johan Santana’s rehab. There has been no stated time-table, there is little in terms of expectations or even guesses. Also, I have received no medical training, I am not a doctor, and therefore cannot speculate on the health of Santana’s shoulder.
With that said, Johan made his first rehab start last night in St. Lucie. Video of the start (courtesy of SNY) is below:
As far as pitchers rehab usually goes, results are unimportant. The three innings, three strikeouts and no runs are certainly nice to see, but mean little in terms of Santana’s actual progress. Santana pitching to Single-A hitters shouldn’t really be a fair match up whether he is fully healthy or working his way back.
By rule, a pitcher has a maximum of 30 days of rehab in the minor leagues, which means that Johan could make 5 more starts before he’d “have” to be called up to the Majors (barring a setback).
The question is how Johan will continue to respond. Chien-Ming Wang (ironically, tonight’s starter for the Nationals) underwent the same surgery over two years ago, and was unable to return to the Majors until…well, tonight.
From all the reports (and there have been plenty) it seems as though Johan’s rehab is off to a good start. It would be irresponsible, however, to imagine him having a big impact on the rest of the Mets season, even if they claw their way closer to the wild card.
For now, it seems most fair to expect Johan to return in the final week of August or the first week of September and make 3-5 starts down the stretch. Rather than pitching for results, even then he will be pitching with an eye on being healthy for next year.
If the Mets can get him back before the end of the season, ensure he is healthy for next season, and allow him to be a veteran leader for the young starters like Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee, they will be ecstatic. Johan Santana was acquired to be a big part of this Mets team, and whatever the exact date of his return, he will still be a big part of this Mets team.