Santana lasted just 1 1/3 innings on Saturday night against Atlanta, giving up eight earned runs in his first start since returning from the disabled list. He has given up at least six earned runs in each of his past four starts, and his ERA has risen from 2.76 to 4.58 since tossing eight shutout innings against the Dodgers on June 30.
"Right now we're just going one game at a time and seeing how it goes," Santana said after Saturday's start. "The good thing is my shoulder is fine from surgery, but that's something we'll talk about. I hope to finish the season pitching, but I don't know later on what's going to happen."
Santana -- whose recent stint on the DL with a sprained right ankle provided the southpaw's rebuilt shoulder with much needed rest -- has, as a whole, exceeded expectations in 2012, especially considering how few pitchers have successfully rebounded from the surgery he underwent to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder in September 2010. But while Collins acknowledged that monitoring Santana's health is the priority, allowing him to finish the season in the rotation would provide confidence that he hopes will carry over into 2013.
"His health is obviously the most important thing, but getting through the season, I think, is pretty important," Collins said. "Do we go to a sixth guy so that he and Chris [Young] have some extra days? That's all going to be talked about."
Collins may use September callups as an opportunity to provide both Santana and Young -- who underwent the same surgery as Santana last season and didn't return until June of this year -- with extra rest heading down the home stretch. But as of right now, the primary focus surrounding Santana is preparing for Friday's start against the Nationals.
"I haven't talked to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] about it, I haven't talked to [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] about it," Collins said, "but I have no plans at the immediate time of shutting Johan Santana down."