Angels could go far in playoffs -- if they get there
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Vernon Wells of the L.A. Angels salutes spectators at the Rogers Centre on August 12 when he played his first MLB game there as a visiting player. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)
The L.A. Angels arrive in Toronto still with playoff hopes, however slim. They have stayed in touch with the Texas Rangers most of the season because of the strength of their pitching and defence.
On the other side of the coin, the Angels have been able to stay 14 games above .500 despite their 18th-worst offence among MLB teams. They are in the bottom half of the league in just about every meaningful offensive category, averaging about four runs per game.
That said, their demise would be greeted with enthusiasm by most of the other playoff contenders because nobody wants to face their big three starting pitchers — Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana — in a short playoff series.
Including Weaver’s win Sunday in Baltimore, those three starters have accounted for 44 wins, 672 innings, a 3.01 combined earned run average and a WHIP of 1.08. No trio of starters in the American League can come close to those numbers.
Weaver’s reputation as a Blue Jays killer took a bit of a hit in his most recent start here on Aug. 13. The Jays knocked him out in the fifth inning after he allowed eight earned runs. Even with that blot on his record, Weaver is 7-2 with a 3.70 ERA against the Jays, who are breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face him in this series.
That’s because manager Mike Scioscia tinkered with his rotation to start Weaver on three days’ rest Sunday in Baltimore to get him one more start before the end of the season, in an attempt to give his team its best chance to catch the Rangers.
“We put a lot of time into making evaluations and looking at options,” Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a calculated risk with anything you do. Weav doesn’t see it as any issue. Nor does (pitching coach) Mike Butcher.
“That certainly gives me the confidence to know that he’s not going to be at any risk.”
Just three weeks ago, Weaver was sent out to face the Rangers on short rest and it didn’t go well. He gave up seven earned runs in six innings during a 9-5 loss.
“You might be spoiled from a guy that was on a run like Weaver. Certainly there have been a couple of games that he hasn’t gone out there and pitched like he’s capable,” Scioscia said. “But, we’re at the close of the season. He’ll be ready.”
This also will be Vernon Wells’ second trip to the Rogers Centre since the offseason trade that made him an Angel last winter. He jolted the Jays with a first at-bat, first-pitch homer last time in but it has been hardly a season of highs for Wells, who spent nine full seasons and parts of three others with the Jays.
Through Saturday, Wells was hitting .217, with an on-base percentage of .249 and a slugging percentage of .399. He has hit 21 home runs and driven in 57.