Ervin Ramon Santana
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 160 lb.
Santana pitched a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim against the Cleveland Indians on July 27, 2011. The Angels won, 3-1, withe Indians' run scoring in the 1st inning after leadoff hitter Ezequiel Carrera reached on an error by SS Erick Aybar and came in to score on a wild pitch. It was the first no-hitter for the Angels since Mark Langston and Mike Witt joined their efforts to throw one on April 11, 1990.
The Angels were shut out in five straight Santana stats in early 2012. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was a major league first. Not surprisingly, after 6 starts, he was leading the American League with 6 losses - not that his 7.23 ERA at that point was any help. He turned things around in winning his next two starts. On June 16th, he flirted with a second career no-hitter when he retired the first 20 Arizona Diamondbacks batters of the game before giving up a single to Justin Upton with two outs in the 7th. It turned out to be the only hit of the game, and he ended up with a one-hitter, winning 2-0. He finished the season with a record of 9-13, 5.16, in 30 starts, pitching 179 innings and giving up an American League-leading 39 homers. The Angels picked up his option after the season, worth $13 million, but promptly traded him to the Kansas City Royals on October 31st in return for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk.
Santana made the Royals' starting rotation in 2013 and earned his first win for his new team in their home opener on April 8th, defeating the Minnesota Twins, 3-1, while giving up only one run in 8 innings. The Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th and Aaron Crow pitched a scoreless 9th for the save. On June 8th, he earned win #100 of his career when he defeated the Houston Astros, 7-2. He finished the season with a record of of 9-10 and an ERA of 3.24 in 211 innings, good for an ERA+ of 127, matching a career best. He also struck out 161 batters in what was a solid performance all-around, in spite of his small number of wins.
A free agent after the season, Santana wanted to cash in on his success, but the fact that the Royals had made him a qualifying offer meant that any team who signed him would need to give up a top draft choice. A number of teams were reported to be interested, including the Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, but in the end he signed for one year and $14.1 million with the Atlanta Braves on March 12th. The Braves had lost two of their projected starters, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, to injuries in the preceding week, and as a result were ready to raise their offer in order to add the only reliable starter left on the market by that point. He made a great debut for the Braves on April 9th, giving no runs on 3 hits in 8 innings against the New York Mets, picking up a 4-3 win. He was excellent in the early going, as after defeating the Chicago Cubs, 2-0, on May 10th, his record was 4-0, 1.99. On July 28th, he was matched up against Jason Lane of the San Diego Padres with the 37-yera-old outfielder-turned-pitcher making his first big league start. It seemed like a mismatch on paper, but Lane kept the Braves off the scoreboard through 6 innings before Evan Gattis homered to lead off the 7th; luckily, Ervin pitched one of his best games that day, striking out 11 over 8 shutour innings to earn a 2-0 win. he finished the year with a record of 9-10 but a solid 3.24 ERA in 32 starts and 211 innings. his ERA+ was an excellent 127, but he received very little support from his hitters, leading to his poor won/loss record. After the season he became a free agent again and on December 11th, news leaked out that he was about to sign a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $54 million, the largest free agent contract in franchise history.
Santana's debut with the Twins was delayed for some time, as just before the 2015 season was to begin, on April 3rd, he was suspended for 80 games for testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol. He claimed, like many others caught before him, that he had never knowingly taken any banned substance. He made his debut on July 5th, after winning three rehabilitation starts with the AAA Rochester Red Wings. In his first game, he faced his former teammates, the Royals, whom he limited to 2 runs in 8 innings but ended up with a no-decision as the Twins, lost, 3-2, on a 9th-inning run.
On April 15, 2017, Santana pitched a complete game one-hitter as he shut out the Chicago White Sox, 6-0. Even though the season was two weeks old by that point, that made him the first major league pitcher to record a complete game win that year. Omar Narvaez managed the only hit off him, in the 3rd inning, and his only other blemish was a walk as he retired the final 18 batters he faced to improve to 3-0, 0.41 on the year. He continued to pitch well over the next few weeks, and on May 12th, he pitched 7 scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians for a 1-0 win that improved his record to 6-1. On May 23rd, he tossed his second shutout of the year, a two-hit 2-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles. On June 9th, he made it three shutouts when he defeated the San Francisco Giants, 4-0, driving three of the runs himself with a double. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time, and finished the season at 16-8, 3.28, leading the AL in both complete game and shutouts. He was one of the main reasons the Twins managed to claim the second wild card spot, and was selected to start the Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees on October 3rd. He was staked with an unexpected 3-0 lead in the 1st, but could not hold it, as he struggled with his command and allowed a three-run homer to Didi Gregorius in the 1st and a solo shot to Brett Gardner in the 2nd before being removed in favor of youngster Jose Berrios in the bottom of the 3rd. The Twins eventually lost the game, 8-4.
Before the start of spring training in 2018, he had to undergo surgery on the middle finger of his throwing hand after experiencing discomfort in a bullpen session. As a result, he missed the start of the season. The problem turned out to be more serious than expected, as he did not appear in a game until July 25th, and then made only 5 starts before being shut down for the remainder of the year. He ended up at 0-1, 8.03, his unavailability being one of a number of blows that turned the year into a lost season for the Twins. He became a free agent after the season and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He was called up to make his first start of the year on April 9th. He made 3 starts, going 0-2, 9.45 and was released on April 29th. On May 24th, he was signed by the New York Mets.
- 2-time AL All-Star (2008 & 2017)
- AL Complete Game Leader (2017)
- AL Shutouts Leader (2017)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (2006, 2008, 2010 & 2017)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 6 (2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 & 2017)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2008)