200 Miles From the Citi

April 12, 2010 6:30 AM


Santana_Tagged_HR.JPGFor now, let's put aside how disappointing this season-opening 2-4 homestand is - there will be plenty of disappointments still to come this season, and we can re-visit this one when we talk about one of those.

I want to focus on Johan Santana.

Everyone's entitled to a bad start now and then.  Santana had a bad start.  No big deal.

Except, am I the only one who's noticing that Santana doesn't quite look like himself?

April's a hard time to make judgments.  Santana is still coming off surgery and might still be making adjustments.

But something just doesn't quite seem right.

Perhaps I created these unreal expectations over the off-season.  Maybe I imagined Santana as better than he really is.

When I think of Johan Santana I think domination.

And in two starts, he has been less than dominant.

Keith Hernandez (who was not in the booth on Sunday) mentioned it a bunch on Opening Day - it didn't seem like Santana was all that comfortable throwing his changeup.

I don't know what he was or wasn't comfortable throwing on Sunday, but Santana looked hittable.  Even after the first inning, when he allegedly settled in (read: he didn't give up four runs), he wasn't overpowering hitters - he was just getting them to hit balls where the defense was.

Gary Cohen and Ron Darling (both of whom I think are great - and the two of them are better in the booth without Hernandez, in my opinion) talked about how much of a relief it must have been for Santana to come out so strong on Opening Day and have a great start.

I watched that game, and it didn't seem like such a great start to me.  In retrospect, after seeing the way the Nationals tagged Santana around the park (including Josh Willingham's grand slam, seen above left coming down back into play), it makes me think the Marlins were intimidated by his reputation rather than his pitching.  They probably feel now they left some hits on the table on Opening Day.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  Maybe it's just a second start in April where Johan Santana is still making adjustments.

But I look at Roy Halladay, and he seems to be adjusting to an even newer situation just fine.  Other star starters don't seem to be having problems getting the season started.

I hope I'm wrong...I hope he comes back and fires a four-hit shutout in his next start.

But I'm sensing something's wrong with Johan Santana.

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