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Is Ervin Santana Back?

August 12, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG 3 Comments

Edited on 8-17-09 – I’m watching Santana against the Orioles and while I can’t write on Santana after every start he makes, I’ll say this: he’s not repeating his mechanics and his timing looks off once again. If you can’t repeat your mechanics from start-to-start, you’re going to get inconsistent results. It’s as simple as that. If he’s not able to replicate his past velocity, he’s going to have to do a better job of commanding his pitches.

How quickly things change. Just one day after publishing an overview of Ervin Santana’s 2009 demise, Santana goes out and throws a complete game, 3-hit shutout. He struck out six and walked two. So…is the 2008 Santana back? Let’s go to the tape. On the left is Santana last night, while on the right is the early 2009 version:

*Credit to MLB Advanced Media

Before I start, it needs to be pointed out that clip of Santana from last night shows him throwing a slider. I couldn’t find a useable clip of Santana throwing the fastball. That’s why the release points look different. Also, the timing between the two above clips are slightly off with the more recent clip being a little behind the early 2009 clip.

Ok, so let’s lay out the differences.

1. Back leg – not as bent…makes it easier to kick out — which is much more apparent than before — that front leg for a more efficient and forceful rotation of the hips.

2. The front shoulder does a better job of staying closed

3. Better balance and better posture…head is more stable, which will lead to better command

4. Better timing…everything looks much more in sync. Arm action is back to being whip-like, which is a sign that he is healthy.

So is he back? For now, it looks like he is. He’s not 2008 electric, but he looked as close to that level as he’s been all year. His velocity was in the mid 90′s for the first couple innings, but his velocity did drop as the game wore on. The major thing for Santana is staying consistent. If he can consistently repeat the mechanics he displayed last night, as well as — and this is the big one — stay healthy, then he’ll be alright and be a major asset for the Angels heading down the final stretch of the season.

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    • Blackout said:

      I had to laugh when I saw that start, and I simply figured that Santana is a Baseball-Intellect follower. He did say after that game that he’d been working on mechanical flaws. I was going to suggest that you do a similar article to jump start Liriano, but he already went out and threw a gem yesterday. Let’s see…who else is struggling… lol

    • Greg Andrew said:

      Santana was still throwing 94/95 mph four-seamers in the ninth, so his velocity wasn’t really down late in the game. His fastball velocity was consistent all game long; he thew only 2 fastballs under 93 mph and 2 or 3 above 95 mph.

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      lol blackout, it happens sometimes. Players can be quick to make adjustments. Or I may praise a player and he gets rocked the next time out.

      As for Liriano, I already made that article last year:


      He still possesses the same post-injury mechanics he had last year and predictably enough, his velocity has never come back to what it once was. His problems commanding his now average stuff has led to him getting hit hard. Last night he was finally able to show some command.

      Greg, Gameday had Santana 93/94 in the 9th. You’re right…his velocity was very consistent in Wednesday’s start. But he did have a small drop off in velocity after the 1st and 2nd innings. He was 95 – 97 with nothing below 95 in the 1st. He was 94 – 96 with nothing below 94 in the 2nd. From there on, he was 93 or 94, touching 95, with a couple fastballs clocking at 92.