Now that left-hander Jason Vargas is on the DL, dark days are here for the Los Angeles Angels (43-45) starting rotation.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than Mike Scioscia‘s decision on Saturday to start Jerome Williams (5-4, 4.16 ERA) against the Boston Red Sox, a mere two days after Williams got shelled for seven runs in 1.2 innings by the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s how little confidence Scioscia has in a fifth starter right now, and so the Angels will have to make do with a four-man rotation unless they acquire another pitcher before the trade deadline.
Thankfully, this problem has been somewhat mitigated by the very timely return to form of Jered Weaver, who had struggled after coming back May 29 from a month and a half stint on the DL. Weaver’s ERA ballooned to an uncharacteristically high 4.65 on June 21, but he has since brought it down to 3.38 courtesy of a three-game stretch in which he has yielded just two runs and struck out 17 through 20.2 innings.
That’s right, the Weav is back, and for that Angel fans should count their blessings.
They shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves, however. A four-man rotation is unsustainable as Scioscia well knows. For as long as the Angels decide to keep up this experiment, Weaver will need to be in Cy Young form every single time he takes the mound, a tall order for any pitcher. He may receive more run support now that Josh Hamilton is back in a groove, but the pressure to perform will be tremendous nonetheless.
Having won 10 of their last 12 games, the Angels are in far better position than they were two weeks ago. Even so, their margin for error is minuscule if they are to contend for a playoff spot, and thus the spotlight will shine ever brighter on their ace Weaver. Let’s hope he is up to the challenge.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.