Angels Lose an Ace

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mlb_g_richards03jr_600x400Everyone knows an Ace in your hand makes your odds go up.  An Ace in your hand is more likely to beat a ten.  However, it’s not just one card that makes the hand – it takes 5.  In this case it takes 9 (at a given time) on the field to a win a baseball game.

If you are like me, you cringed when you saw the Angels Ace go down last night in the second inning.  Seeing Richards lay there on the ground in pain made me a bit sick to my stomach.  Having had a knee injury myself and seeing many around me, I know that even a minor injury takes you out a few week.  Being in that much pain most likely equals an ending to a spectacular season.

Recently, Tyler Skaggs was taken out of the rotation due to Tommy John surgery.  Now Richards (details still emerging) is out for at least “a while”.  Richards started 26 games this year and won 13 of them.  Of those 26 starts, the Angels went on to win 20 of them.  That’s a 20-6 record with Richards on the mound.  Yikes.  Richards was certainly a Cy Young candidate this year (though that award will go to King Felix) and was able to pitch deep into the game more than any other Angels pitcher which helped give the bullpen rest.

And this happened while the Angels have been surging and went from 4 games behind the 1st place Athletics to 1.5 games in front of them in a just over a week.  It makes the road to and through the playoffs a bit harder, but by no means ends the Angel’s chance at a ring.  Baseball is an interesting game and there is much more to winning than having the best team on paper.  Many roads to the championship have been wrought with struggles and rarely are you in 1st place from the beginning of the season to World Series champs with no ups and downs along the way.

That being said, the Angels DO have a tough road ahead when it comes to starting pitching.  Fortunately, the bullpen has been strong but they also need rest.  Where are the Halos going to find a guy that can pitch a solid 6 or 7 innings almost every time he goes out?  Let’s first look at the current rotation in order of average innings pitched per start:

Jered Weaver
13-7, 1.23 WHIP, 3.70 ERA
He’s had a few rough starts this year but has been pretty solid and regular goes 6-7 innings with 1 complete game in 2014 with an average of 6.2 innings per start.

CJ Wilson
10-8, 1.42 WHIP, 4.59 ERA
Not very consistent but has averaged 5.9 innings per game.  CJ has pitched 4 games of less than 4 innings this year but all 4 were in a row and around the time he got injured.  Hopefully it was just a slump. He has pitched complete game shutout in 2014 so he can go the distance.

Matt Shoemaker
11-4, 1.19 WHIP, 3.84 ERA
A very pleasant surprise this season.  The Beard has been a great addition to the rotation.  Shoemaker has had 7 relief appearances and 14 starts.  Among his starts he has 9 wins and averages 5.7 innings.

Hector Santiago
3-7, 1.21 WHIP, 3.46 ERA
Santiago has started 17 of his 22 appearances.  As a starter he only has 2 wins and averages only 4.9 innings per game started in 2014.  However, over the past two months he has been averages 5.9 innings per game and now has the lowest ERA among Angels starters.  How did that happen?

So that leaves us with 4 starters who are currently pitching fairly well.  It’s doubtful the Angels will go to a 4 man rotation the rest of the way but anything is possible – especially given the lack of starting pitchers that are available. If you look at my recent post about pitching down the stretch, you see some possible starters in the mix.  Part of the problem with the 4 man rotation is we still have 5 weeks remaining and only 2 days off which means the starters would be going on only three days rest most of the time.  I think it’s HIGHLY likely we will see a minor league call up rather than any sort of trade of waiver acquisition.

Drew Rucinski and Michael Roth have been pitching well albeit in AA.  For the Bees, the ones going the distance are Wade LeBlanc and Anthony Lerew. Ruckinski, Roth, and Caleb Clay have all been on the Halos active roster this year so perhaps Scioscia will make the move for one of them?  Given the roster expansion is only 9 days away, it’s also a remote possibility that Scioscia could go with a platoon of starters that may both go 3-4 innings each getting 6-8 innings into the game before the relievers need to jump in.




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