Johan could be pushed back

New York Mets manager Terry Collins said that left-hander Johan Santana isn’t hurt, but the team will discuss alternatives -- including possibly pushing him back, skipping him a start or even placing him on the disabled list -- to “get some energy back in his arm.”

“He came out of the All-Star break, he had eight days of rest, pitched on the ninth day. He just hasn’t responded. So we’re gonna go in here and discuss some options and see what we come up with tomorrow,” Collins said.

Johan Santana

Johan Santana

#57 SP
New York Mets

2012 STATS

  • GM19
  • W6

  • L7

  • BB38

  • K105

  • ERA3.98

“Obviously, when you talk about options, those things will all be brought up. Do you want to skip him one start? If you put him on the DL, you’re talking two starts. All those things are gonna be talked about.”

In Friday night’s 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 33-year-old left-hander gave up six earned runs on seven hits in three innings. He has now given up 19 earned runs in his last three starts (12 2/3 innings, 13.50 ERA), and became just the third pitcher in franchise history to give up six or more earned runs in three consecutive starts.

“I feel OK,” Santana said. “I don’t feel my best right now, but at the same time, I’m not trying to find excuses. I’m just not executing my pitches. I’m not commanding my fastball.”

Asked if he could use some extra rest, Santana replied, “I don’t know. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. As of right now, I’m OK.”

Santana, who is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA, missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Prior to his career-high 134-pitch no-hitter on June 1, he sported a 2.75 ERA. But ever since, he’s given up 31 earned runs and 11 home runs in 42 2/3 innings, which amounts to a 6.54 ERA over his last eight starts.

Asked if he thought his high pitch count during the no-hitter has had a negative effect, Santana replied, “No. That was a long time ago. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I’m just going through a tough time.”

Santana’s next scheduled start is Wednesday afternoon against the Washington Nationals.

If Santana is skipped or pushed back, Jeremy Hefner -- who was promoted from Triple-A after Friday night's game given the bullpen use heading into Miguel Batista's start -- would be the most likely candidate to take that start. Highly touted prospect Matt Harvey conceivably would be another option, but he is pitching Saturday for Buffalo. And the Mets are looking to optimize the chance for Harvey to succeed, and short rest opposite Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday would not exactly qualify.

As for the corresponding roster move for Hefner's promotion, the Mets will not announce it until pregame Saturday. Slumping Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is no longer regularly starting, would appear most vulnerable with the Mets carrying an extra bench player, as long as Santana avoids the DL. A byproduct of Nieuwenhuis in the minors for 20 days would be an extra year before he gains free agency.

Santana has already thrown 110 2/3 innings this season, but Collins said before the game that the organization hasn’t discussed any sort of innings limit for him.