By Rich Coutinho
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Johan Santana has been brutally bad since the All-Star Break, and so the debate rages on whether he should be shut down or not.

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And although I am in favor of players fulfilling their obligation to their teams by showing up and performing, I do think it would be prudent to shut Santana down for a number of reasons.

The biggest argument against shutting him down has been to get Santana a good vibe going into the 2013 season, but I think that has already been accomplished. He showed that he can still pitch, and his no-hitter will remain in the Mets history books forever.

But his gas tank is clearly at “E” right now, and I think I know why. Santana has been pitching since December, and he tried to catalyze the rehab process so he would be ready by Opening Day. He accomplished that, and all signs point to his shoulder being healthy — the velocity on his fastball confirms that notion. What he is lacking is command, and I attribute that to a fatigued pitching arm which needs rest.

So why push the issue here? The Mets are clearly out of the race, and while I admire Santana’s desire to finish out the season, someone has to look at the big picture. The Mets have invested serious money into this player, and pitching him down the stretch could do much more harm than good. I know Santana very well — and I know he hates to sit — but someone has to be the adult in the room and take the baseball away from him.

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In 2013, the Mets starting rotation will include R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Santana and another hurler. (That could be Dillon Gee or a prospect.) And if Santana is healthy, that is a very good core of starters.

More importantly, this will not be a rehab offseason for Santana, where he’s playing “Beat The Clock” to get ready for Spring Training. He can really rest that arm in the way most pitchers do, and come to Port St. Lucie with a regular work schedule — unlike what he went through this spring.

All signs point to the fact that shutting  Santana down will give him the best chance for success in 2013. And with the money the Mets have invested in his left arm, it seems to me that this is a very easy decision.

He has to be shut down for the sake of himself and the 2013 Mets.

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Is the decision to shut down Johan a no-brainer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…