Blanton’s rotation spot on the bubble …
Joe Blanton‘s next turn through the rotation will come on Saturday. Will he take the ball that day? Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn’t say on Monday night, after Blanton gave up four runs in a 3 2/3-inning outing to move to 2-13 with a 5.66 ERA — but he also didn’t say Blanton would make that start.
Here’s what we do know about that turn through the rotation …
1. Somebody has to take the ball. The Angels are four games into a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, so they need a fifth starter.
2. It won’t be Jason Vargas, who’s still recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot. He hopes to start throwing bullpens Tuesday or Wednesday and return two weeks later. And obviously, Jerome Williams is already in the rotation.
It’s easy to say Blanton is having a bad season — easily the worst of his career — and that he should be at least temporarily removed from the rotation. It’s a whole other thing to replace him. First off, I don’t think Blanton would be much help out of the bullpen. The best bet would be to get him to agree to go to the Minor Leagues to iron out some things and hopefully come back in mid- to late-August. And no, you don’t release him. He’s owed $7.5 million in 2014 (plus a team option for 2015), so it’d be senseless to just eat it and give up on him for next season.
But, of course, here’s the most important part: The options to replace Blanton are slim, at best.
Here they are, perceivably …
Garrett Richards: He hasn’t started a game since April 30. Heck, he hasn’t thrown more than 3 2/3 innings in that span. And he has a 4.92 ERA in 16 career starts.
Michael Roth: He was starting in the Minor Leagues, but that was a month ago — and, you know, this is his first full season of pro baseball. Roth was optioned after Monday’s game.
Billy Buckner: He’s probably the likeliest candidate, if there is one at all at this point. But since pitching 4 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on July 3, he’s pitched one inning. And he has a 6.41 ERA in 23 career Major League starts.
Someone in Triple-A: Matt Shoemaker (5.10 ERA), A.J. Schugel (7.05) and Barry Enright (7.13), Jarrett Grube (4.24) and Dustin Richardson (eight earned runs last time out) have all struggled.
Brandon Hynick: Never heard of him? Well, he’s a 28-year-old Minor League journeyman who’s having a nice season in Double-A — 2.68 ERA in 16 starts — so that’s good.
Mark Sappington: He’s probably the Angels’ best pitching prospect right now and he’s 10-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts this season. But, um, that’s in A ball.
See what I mean?