Angels get Weaver back, & the rich get richer
Heading into Wednesday night, the Angels had been without their best pitcher for nearly three weeks, had seen their No. 2 starter struggle uncharacteristically (by his standards) and had stomached a mystifying start from their No. 3 man.
And still their rotation had the lowest ERA in the American League.
The Angels have plenty of pitching depth on their big league roster. Enough so that they largely relied on it even while ace Jered Weaver missed time on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Now, after receiving six shutout innings from Weaver in his return, the Angels’ staff ERA sits at 3.51 — even with Dan Haren struggling through a 3.97 ERA and Ervin Santana sporting a 5.16 mark.
The No. 1 ERA in the AL: Weaver, at 2.40.
No. 2: C.J. Wilson, at 2.44.
Then there’s Garrett Richards, the young stud who has given up two earned runs in 21 innings and stayed on board after Jerome Williams was placed on the disabled list. And there’s Williams himself, who has pitched much better than his 4.45 mark would suggest, being one of the better No. 5 starters in baseball. When Williams returns (that’s unknown, but as scary as his shortness of breath on Monday night was, at least he’s not injured, per se), the Angels will have six capable starters, possibly all in the big leagues.
That’s big because the Angels have hardly nothing in the Minors. With David Pauley being claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays, and Brad Mills and Trevor Bell on the DL, the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees have had to use relievers like Juan Rincon in the rotation to fill the void.
It’s big because in this era, even the best clubs need big time help beyond their five starters to succeed. In fact, six of the last seven World Series champions needed at least 10 starts from six guys throughout the regular season, with the ’06 Cardinals (with Jason Isringhausen as their closer and Albert Pujols as their star) needing 13 from seven different pitchers. The only exception here was the ’09 Yankees, who went to a three-man staff in the playoffs and got through the regular season with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain as full-time starters. But even they needed at least six starts from four others.
Simply put, the cliche is true — you can never have too much quality starting pitching.
The Angels, at least, have a fair amount.
** From last night: Question of the Day, on Mark Trumbo or Mike Trout for Angels MVP.