Santana gave the Mets a nice 50th birthday present by pitching the franchise's first no-hitter in June, but has been shaky since, and that's putting it nicely. Santana's last five starts have been losses. He's given up over six runs in each, and hasn't made it past the fifth inning in any. That led manager Terry Collins to set a plan to get Santana through a bad stretch: he'd limit the pitcher to under 100 pitches in this Thursday's outing and evaluate the pitcher's health after a few more starts, with the potential to shut him down after rosters expanded in September. But that plan could be in jeopardy: Santana's back is apparently really bothering him, and if an MRI reveals anything bad, the Mets will likely end his season early.
Shutting down Santana would be the prudent plan for the Mets if anything comes up in the test: Santana is still a great pitcher, as evidenced by his 2.78 ERA at the end of June before his horrendous five-game stretch. He'll be more helpful to the team in the future than he will with the team nearly 20 games out of the division lead.