Like it or not, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver are going to pitch on short rest this series in Texas. My problem with it is that I can’t decide if I actually like it or not. I hated the idea at first, then I started to buy into it, but now I think I am leaning towards it being a bad idea. So, forgive me if you will, but I’m going to take this opportunity to try and work this boondoggle out with a good old fashion pro and con list.
PRO: Beating the Rangers is of the utmost importance right now. The Angels are now two games back and have all the momentum, so they should try and capitalize by putting their best players up against Texas to try and continue closing the gap or even taking over the lead altogether.
CON: Why are the Texas games more important than the games afterward? Doing anything to potentially damage Weaver and Santana over the rest of the season for the sake of one series seems like a risk that is not worth taking. Why not let Santana start on full rest at full strength on Sunday and hope Williams or Pineiro can steal a win on Saturday? They might lose that Saturday game, but they have a good chance of losing it too if Santana can’t handle the short rest. Keeping the rotation intact also let’s Weaver face Seattle, which is a mortal lock of a victory, but Pineiro or Williams isn’t, meaning the Angels could be unwittingly sacrificing a game they should win against a bad team for a slightly better chance at winning a tough game.
PRO: Weaver and Santana are workhorses, so they can probably handle the short rest start, especially since it is just once and not a permanent thing. They also had advanced warning about starting on short rest, so they should have no problem adjusting their routines to ready themselves both mentally and physically.
CON: Both pitchers are very durable, but durability can’t prepare them for doing something they have never done before. Even if they keep their normal prep routine intact, they aren’t going to have any idea how their arm is going to feel until they get out there. Will their command be on point? Will their velocity still be there? Will their breaking stuff be crisp? Both Weaver and Santana are savvy enough to adjust to however things are working for them that day, but it might take a few innings and by then it might be too late.
PRO: There is a trickle-down effect of this rotation shift in that it now sets up Weaver to start the final game of the season, assuming the Angels skip Pineiro or Williams on the rotation turns that include an off day. This is a big bonus because there is a good chance that last game could have a major impact on who goes to the post-season AND it means Weaver gets an extra start. This is nothing but good.
CON: Another trickle-down effect of the shift is that it means more bullpen use from the Angels. With one less day of rest, it could be too much to ask for Weaver and/or Santana to go eight or even seven innings in their outings like they usually do. That means the Angel bullpen, which, how can I put this delicately? Both sucks and blows at the same time, is going to be relied upon more than they normally would. This is nothing but bad.
PRO: Weaver has a history of success against the Rangers, going 9-5 with a 3.14 ERA. He is slightly less effective (2-5, 4.02) in Arlington, but that is the best the Angels have to offer. It is also a huge upgrade over Joel Pineiro who has a 4.80 career ERA against the Rangers and 6.13 ERA in Arlington. Even on short rest, this is an obvious upgrade. As for Santana, the Rangers basically own him (5.55 ERA against the Rangers, 7.37 in Arlington), so it isn’t like he can get much worse just because he is a little less rested.
CON: What if it doesn’t work? What if the Rangers sweep the Angels three best pitchers or even just take two out of three? There goes all that momentum. The Halos will still be within reach of the AL West crown, but having their three elite starters get beat by Texas could be too demoralizing to bounce back from.
OK, that’s all I got… and I’m not sure it helped. I think I am leaning slightly more towards this being a bad idea, but I’m also going to reserve the right to pretend it was a good idea if it ends up working out well.