ANAHEIM, Calif. – In the ever-changing state of the Angels pitching rotation, the only sure thing is Jered Weaver.
Everything else is in flux.
This was never more clear than Wednesday morning when manager Mike Scioscia announced that troubled right-hander Ervin Santana will not pitch Friday as expected and that it’s possible Jerome Williams could start next week against the Texas Rangers rather than Garrett Richards.
Other than those two developments, everything is … well, uncertain. There’s still the July 31 trade deadline, which comes on Tuesday and either might or might not produce a trade involving the Angels.
There are reports they’re scouting several pitchers, although one that would have included Santana, center fielder Peter Bourjos and minor-league catcher Hank Conger for Tampa Bay Rays starter James Shields is apparently dead. But other rumors remain in play.
Anyway, Santana is too confused in his delivery to help anyone. Scioscia said the right-hander is starting to figure things out with his delivery, which is why the Angels made the decision to scratch him from Friday’s start against the Rays. Instead, Dan Haren starts Friday and CJ Wilson on Saturday.
A day off allows Scioscia the freedom to make the switch, since Haren and Wilson will still have four days off between starts and Santana will get a couple of more “power bullpens” before his start next week against the Texas Rangers, probably Tuesday.
The Angels believe Santana’s problems stem from an incorrect arm slot and release point. They’ve been videotaping his bullpen sessions and feel Santana has been giving away pitches when his arm slot is too high.
“As many adjustments as they’ve tried to make, this is a big adjustment that is very apparent,” Scioscia said. “It could be a quick fix; it could be something that a couple of bullpens are going to fix. But we have to do it now. If you don’t and he continues to go in the wrong direction, the probability of him getting back to where we need him to be diminishes.”
Santana will still be on a 15-out limit, meaning he won’t be allowed to go more than five innings, regardless of the score or how he’s pitching. But clearly, it’s more important to get him fixed than get him deep into games. A little success could be all he needs.
“If you’re not having results and your adjustments aren’t coming as smoothly as you want, it’s certainly a factor in confidence – am I going to be able to go out there and execute my pitches?” Scioscia said. “He goes out there with confidence, but it has to be backed up with execution.”
Scioscia still must decide whether to start Richards or Williams on Friday. Richards allowed four runs in the first two innings Tuesday to the Royals but then settled down. Williams, dispatched to the bullpen last weekend, threw four scoreless innings. “We’ll have some options,” Scioscia said.
In the meantime, it’s important to note that even Weaver has occasional problems. He pitched five innings against the Royals on Wednesday and improved his record to 13-1, but his command was off in the Angels’ 11-6 win. He hit Lorenzo Cain twice, which resulted later in Royals starter Luke Hochevar hitting Mike Trout in the fourth and being ejected by plate umpire Bob Davidson.
“The intent to hit Mike was obvious,” Scioscia said.
Weaver admitted his control was off kilter and said he had no intention to hit Cain with a big lead. But these things happen.
“That’s the last thing you want to do,” he said. “My command wasn’t there today. I couldn’t find my release point and I was a little erratic. But the offense picked me up.”
Now, maybe it’s time for the pitching to offer a little pick-me-up.