It’s a bit surprising to me how many people point to Ervin Santana’s absence to date this season as a significant reason for the Twins’ let down of a season. I can tell you that even if the Twins had Santana, and he posted the same numbers he did last year, the problems with the team ran far too deep for his impact to matter.
And frankly, Erv wasn’t going to be the pitcher he was last year anyway. His output hasn’t matched his peripherals for a while, and were actually worse last year than the year before. Even without injury, Santana is a year older this year, and his velocity was only going to continue to drop.
On top of the typical aging curve for a starting pitcher, Santana also has an injury he has struggled to return from. He took a long time to even start throwing after surgery on his middle finger, and since he’s been rehabbing in the minors, well, he hasn’t been good. He’s not striking out minor league hitters, and he’s giving up a bunch of home runs, suggesting that his lack of velocity is being coupled with a lack of spin, or bad accuracy.
It’s far too late for Santana to make any big impacts on the 2018 season, even if he was healthy. The only good thing about this start is that it is coming before the trade deadline, just in case he can look ok and the Twins can get something in return for him.
And that’s essentially the point of the start. In any other season, Santana would be shut down, or at least allowed to shake off rust in the bullpen, but right now, its simply a showcase for deadline buyers. Let’s hope it pays off.