For the third year in a row, New York Mets’ pitcher Johan Santana will go under the knife, and for the second year in a row, he will have his season end prematurely.

In 2008, Santana pitched through September with a torn meniscus in his left knee and underwent surgery after the season ended. In 2009, Santana saw his season end in August after it was determined that he needed surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. And in 2010, Santana’s season will end in surgery again.

The New York Mets announced on Friday that Santana would miss the remainder of the season due to suffering a tear of the anterior capsule of the left shoulder. The injury is located on the front and bottom part of the shoulder close to the pectoral muscle, the team said, resulting in discomfort radiating through both the pectoral muscle and shoulder.

That is a lot of medical jargon for me. The bottom line is that Santana will have shoulder surgery, and it’s quite possible that he could miss the start of the 2011 season. For me, this represents the beginning of the end for Santana.

Santana’s season will end with the fact that for the fourth season in a row, his K/9 has declined, his BB/9 has increased, the average velocity has decreased on his fastball, and for the third season in a row, his groundball percentage has increased. Those numbers combined with the fact that he has had surgery on various body parts three years in a row, means that Santana can no longer be counted on as a legitimate ace.

Santana will be 32 years old when the season starts next year, and all of these surgeries have to be taking a tole on him. These surgeries would take a toll on a 21-year-old, let alone a 32-year-old. The transformation from strike-out pitcher to pitch to contact pitcher will be complete after this surgery.

That doesn’t mean Santana can’t be an effective pitcher moving forward. Santana is one of those pitchers that can get away with mediocre stuff and still produce a solid outing. Pitching in the National League will certainly help him.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s quite possible Santana won’t be ready for the start of the 2011 season, which already puts a negative tone in the mouth of Mets fans to start the season; Something the Mets’ organization desperately needed to avoid.

No timetable as been set yet as to when Santana will undergo the surgery.

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