This has been one of those seasons so far that has left us all scratching our collective heads. Why did it take so long to bring up Mike Trout? Why is Bobby Abreu being rewarded for being a malcontent? Jason Isringhausen? Really?
At this point in the season though, bad decisions are magnified to the nth degree, and skipping Ervin Santana‘s last start so he could pitch in Texas while allowing C.J. Wilson to remain on his regularly scheduled days could be Mike Scioscia’s biggest mistake.
Big Erv’s 2012 can easily be summed up in one word, inconsistent. He was not our best option at the beginning of the season, but was victimized by severe bad luck (I’m sure you also remember his string of bad starts where the Angels offense decided that winning the Golf way was the way to go). He’s been decidedly bad for the balance of the season, with enough decent to outstanding starts to convince Scioscia to keep him in the rotation and move Jermoe Williams to the bullpen when the rotation got crowded.
Since hitting rock bottom on July 21st when he gave up six runs in 1.2 innings, we have seen, not much better, but a much more serviceable Ervin Santana. It might not save him from having his option declined, but he has most certainly earned his regularly scheduled starts.
The straight edged racer has been a completely different set of “what the hell is going on with this guy” talk. He started off the year as billed after signing a five year $75 million contract. After his June 26th start he was 9-4 with a 2.36 ERA, the dominant left handed starter the Angels have needed since Joe Saunders was shipped to the Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren Trade. Then, 11 straight starts without a registering a win. Dan Haren received a lot of attention for his inability to do anything right on the mound at this time, but C.J. was just as unreliable. He would have games where he gave up three runs, followed by a game where he’d give eight runs. For a pitcher that prides himself on his “Throw Strikes” mantra, C.J. has been in what seems like an endless string of 3-2 counts when he least needs to be, and getting burned in that moment.
But that is not what we are here talking about, so let’s just look at the here and now provided by these two pitchers. Since baseball is a game of “what have you done for me lately,” let’s just see who has been here for us lately.
The table speaks for itself. Since the "15 out limit" that was placed on him on July 30th, it's been like a new season for the chin strapped one. He's still giving up home runs like it's going out of style, but when you are being stingy with the hits and free passes, the solo's aren't so bad. His ERA has dropped almost an entire run in that span, and the Angels have only lost twice during that time. What has Ervin done for us and the team lately? Well, to be Jim (because who really want to be Frank anyway), he's been what he was expected to be since the start of the year. And that has been very important for the Angels so far down the stretch.
Wow. The man of a million different interests seems to no longer be interested in being a serviceable starting pitcher. The Angels have an even .500 record in his 12 starts since July 28th. His ERA has risen an entire run during that span. And, I’m not an expert or anything, but I’m gonna guess it’s all the walks and hits that Mr. Wilson has been giving up. And it was just a mere 11 days ago when C.J. couldn’t even get out of the third inning. What has Wilson done for us lately? He’s been lucky. Only twice has he gotten to the seventh inning or later, making himself an automatic bullpen drain. Yeah, that same bullpen that I personally would rather not see enter into any games early over the next five games.
Ervin should start over C.J. right? Wrong. According to this report on the team’s official site, Ervin was given “extra rest,” allowing him to go against the Rangers tonight and quite possibly close the book on his 2012 season (and maybe even his Angels career). C.J. took the mound against Felix Hernandez earlier this week, and will make his next scheduled start per the rotation setup. The plan apparently is to have Santana available to come out of the pen as a long reliever during the season’s final series against the Mariners (Probably on the day that C.J. pitches).
What would I have done? Not only would C.J. get skipped because I, simply put, cannot trust him right now, but I would have sandwiched Dan Haren in between a Three headed monster of Jered Weaver, Zack Greinke and Ervin Santana (all going on short rest). Shoving every single chip I’ve got into the pile. There’s no time for feelings at this point in the year, and I completely understand sending Ervin out against Texas, but at the same time, I’m not trusting an unreliable pitcher to take the hill either when the games mean as much as they do right now.
Mike Scioscia has made a couple of glaring mistakes this year, but this one right here, might be the one that I actually deem to be “inexcusable.”