Yesterday afternoon, Mike Scioiscia described Jose Alvarez and Drew Rucinski as candidates for the starting rotation to begin the season.
On Sunday afternoon Rucinski made a bold step forward to the pitching rubber of Anaheim. His Fastball is as good as any other Halo starter - not that there is a power pitcher in the bunch, really, but his splitter is the magic weapon that could put -and keep - him in the bigs.
His last 8.1 IP over two games have seen him allow merely two hits and no runs. The two hits came today - amidst retiring fourteen of sixteen batters faced with no walks allowed. He has only allowed four hits altogether in eleven Spring innings. His three walks allowed has been well-balanced by ten strikeouts.
The Angels have three certain starters for the start of the season: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker. As recently as a week ago the other two candidates appeared to be Andrew Heaney and Hector Santiago. With Nick Tropeano relegated to minor league B-Games for most of the Spring, the path for Heaney & Santiago appeared to be clear despite clearly mediocre results in the Cactus League.
Rucinksi's dominance may push one of Heaney or Santiago to the pen (in Hector's case) or the minors (in Heaney's situation) at the start of April but the looming return of Garrett Richards will make it all tenuous. If he pitches in two starts in the bigs like he pitched today, it might be impossible for the Angels to send Drew-Ru anywhere except the mound.