Despite numerous articles predicting a sub-par season and countless tweets attempting to convey the same message, many Mets fans continue to believe that the Johan Santana of old is preparing for the 2012 season. This week's endorsement as the opening day starter by Mets' manager Terry Collins, combined with three seemingly positive and uneventful bullpen sessions have only fueled those flames. I beg of you fellow Mets fans..beg of you..keep your expectations realistic.
Regardless of how much experience Johan has, nothing changes the fact that he hasn't thrown in a Major League game since September 2010. Furthermore, even without the injured shoulder, Johan's arm isn't prepared for the rigors of a 200 inning season.
Giving him credit as a veteran, that he can pace himself and manage his body over the year, consider this. If we liken Johan's arm to that of a rookie, in the sense that stamina over the year can be an issue, you'll find these stats...
In the last three years, no more than 16 rookies have made more than 20 starts in their first full year at the big league level. On average those young arms threw 150-160 innings in that first year. Mets fans needn't look any further than Jon Niese and/or Dillon Gee to see how the second half of a season can unfold when a pitcher's arm simply runs out of gas.
I'm not saying Johan can't be an effective pitcher again. I'm not even saying he's going to get hurt again. I'm just saying his arm isn't in the condition to go 7+ innings, 25-30 times this season. Even if he starts out strong, expect him to struggle as the year goes on regardless of health. Its just another thing he's going to have to overcome as he looks to return to form this season and unfortunately for us there is no way around that.