Is Ervin Santana Back?
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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