WASHINGTON -- Johan Santana called his season a roller coaster. From the high of the first-ever Mets no-hitter to Friday night's low, allowing six or more runs for a fifth straight start in a 6-4 loss to the Nationals, Santana's return from major shoulder surgery has been all over the place.
The ride might be coming to an end soon. After Friday night's roller-coaster within a roller-coaster outing -- Santana retired the first nine Nationals, then gave up three straight singles and a grand slam to Michael Morse, and later a two-run homer to Bryce Harper -- there might be a looming discussion about whether to shut Santana down for the remainder of the season to allow him time to rest.
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"[General manager] Sandy [Alderson], Terry Collins and I will sit down . . . I would imagine as soon as we get home [Sunday]," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "We have to talk to Johan tomorrow, see how sore he is, how the body feels, how his arm feels, how he feels mentally."
No one from the manager and pitching coach on down to Santana himself felt bad about Friday night's outing, which put Santana into the Mets record book again as the first pitcher in team history to give up six or more runs in five straight starts. His 134-pitch no-hitter against the Cardinals was barely 10 weeks ago, but it feels like years; Santana is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA since that June 1 no-hitter.
"Compared to my last [start], this one was way better," Santana said. He came off the disabled list and gave up eight runs in 11/3 innings to the Braves last Saturday. "I feel fine. The velocity's there, it's getting better. Everything has to be there, but I feel like I'm making progress."
The decision for the Mets now is whether Santana needs more starts to keep working out the kinks or whether rest and resumption next spring is better for him.
"He was terrific in April. It took a little time to get to April -- he started last December," Collins said. "He took a month off to rest up. Is it going to take 2-3 times to get there? Maybe. I see the stuff, I think he's going to be back to where he was early in the year."
Collins seemed uninterested in a full shutdown; Warthen took a more open approach. Santana said flatly he would not ask to be shut down, but would be willing to discuss it, given how much work he's put in since missing all of 2011.
"It's been a long, long season for me, at the same time very positive," Santana said. "Even though I've had rough outings, I'm able to work through them. Sometimes mechanically you're not there or the command is not there. But physically, I feel like I've done a lot without any problems.
"Next couple days, we'll see what they have to say. Overall I feel up to this point, I feel good."
He was moving his changeup around well the first time through the Nationals' order, staked to a 2-0 lead on Daniel Murphy's two-out, two-run single off Ross Detwiler (7-5). But Jayson Werth drilled a single up the middle to lead off the fourth, and Harper and Ryan Zimmerman followed with equally well-hit singles back through the box before Morse hit a fastball out over the plate to right.
"I was so encouraged by the outing tonight -- outside of the score and the losing -- but the first three innings of perfect baseball," Warthen said. "Very obvious the fourth and fifth inning, the ball was leaking back over the plate, losing velocity. He's just not in very strong pitching shape."