Looking strong, Johan on pace for at least 30 starts

Looking strong, Johan on pace for at least 30 starts

CHICAGO -- Johan Santana is on pace to make at least 30 starts for the first time since 2008, when he made 34.

Santana has a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts this season and has allowed just two runs in his last two starts.

"My conscience is pretty clear we can ride him," manager Terry Collins said. "Like I said in Spring Training, if we get 28 starts out of him, we're going to be a pretty good club. If we get 32 starts out of him, we are going to be a good club."

Santana followed his no-hitter on June 1 by allowing 10 runs in his next two outings. Collins said he's comforted that Santana left the no-hitter without any arm pain and has finally found his groove once again. He said he plans to use Santana as he would any other pitcher for the remainder of the season.

"I'm happy he got the no-hitter," Collins said. "As we continue down this road, he's going to throw up a lot of zeros, and he's only going to do that if he's healthy."

Collins plans to stick with a five-man rotation the rest of the year, barring any injuries or setbacks. He took Santana out for a pinch-hitter after six innings Monday, but said if his spot hadn't come around in the lineup, he would have left the starter in.