First the bad news: The news about the Angels’ pitching staff was lousy this week. John Lackey has been shut down with inflammation near his elbow. Ervin Santana has a small tear in an elbow ligament. Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders are suddenly the pitching staff and each of them got off to a late start in spring with their own offseason soreness.
Okay, now some good news: Veteran Kelvim Escobar heard words like "career-threatening" last summer, so the fact that he is throwing in the mid-90s and slated for a late-April return to the rotation after shoulder surgery is nothing short of miraculous.
And in Filler news: Righty Dustin Moseley has had a good Spring and Nick Adenhart is looking far superior in Arizona than he did in a short turn in the spotlight early last season in L.A. of Anaheim. Journeyman Shane Loux is on the bubble and easily the rotation arm most likely to head to Triple A should another arm join the staff in April.
The season will open with a less than fearsome front five:
Saunders, Weaver, Moseley, Adenhart and Loux.
Yeah, that is just not a good rotation. You have a contact pitcher likely to regress, a fastballer who has had flyball funks pop up amidst otherwise great seasons, a 6th starter who hangs curveballs suddenly the 3rd man, a 4th starter who melted in the big league spotlight last season and a 5th starter who might not make some Triple-A team rotations.
Basically, the opening day staff is the Worse Case Scenario.
Worse Case Scenario:
The opening day staff is the rotation for the majority of the season. Even at their best, healthy and producing, we have a league average staff.
So the Angels start 2009 with the Worse Case Scenario.
Not as Bad, but Still Bad Scenario:
Escobar returns in late April and to his former glory as Loux returns to the minors. The staff of S-W-E-M-A has some good games but generally pitches league average.
Okay Enough Scenario:
The S-W-E-M-A staff puts together a good season, one of them makes the all-star team and performing above expectations they have an ERA around 4.60
Kind of Good Scenario:
Either Santana or Lackey are lost for 2009 but the other rebounds, joining Saunders, Weaver, Escobar and Moseley, who all come close to repeating their best seasons in a winnable division.
Much Better Scenario:
One of Santana or Lackey is back by May 15 and the other returns after the All Star break, both operating on their 2008 superiority.
Best Case Scenario:
Escobar is Escobar and joins the rotation in late April, Lackey’s inflammation is soothed and he returns the 2nd week of May and is followed by a rehabbed and sharpened Santana before the season hits the 1/3 mark.
So the best-case scenario sees the Angels opening the season with the worst rotation in the division for 1/6 the season and a middle of the pack Top Five until at least1/3 of the season has passed.
Please welcome your 2009 Los Angeles Angels of Aspirinaheim, a Southern California baseball fan’s biggest headache.