When Mike Scioscia told the media that the Angels would be using a four-man rotation for the first turn in the pitching order at the start of the 2015 season, he didn't have to lay out which pitchers it would be; the remaining arms in camp narrow down the likely candidates.
Jered Weaver will pitch on Opening Day, Monday April 6 in Seattle. He will also pitch in the fifth game of the season, Saturday April 11 at home against the Royals. That will be on normal rest because of the team's April 9 off day.
C.J. Wilson will get the nod for the second game of the season April 7 in Seattle and Sunday afternoon April 12 at home.
Matt Shoemaker is lining up to take the third spot and start April 8 in Seattle and the evening of Monday April 13 on the road in Texas against the Rangers.
Who will be the fourth starter? The strongest candidates right now are Drew Rucinski and Hector Santiago.
The fourth starter is the pitcher who will start the home opener. The Angels will likely not announce who it will be for a few reasons. Suppose a Halo pitcher gets shelled early in games 1, 2 or 3. Santiago might be called out of the bullpen. This could open the door for Jose Alvarez to get a spot start with an exhausted Santiago.
For this reason it is easy to assume that Drew Rucinski will not be on the opening day roster, allowing the Angels to keep Alvarez and Santiago in the bullpen as innings-eater insurance for the Seattle series. If neither is used, look for Santiago to start the home opener against KC on Friday April 10.
But no matter who is the fourth starter, he will not be able to start the second game of the Texas series on April 14. On that Tuesday night, Angel arms one through four will be on varying days' rest - none of it the requisite four days. And so the fifth starter will enter the picture.
Mike Scioscia has already indicated that it will not be the almost-recovered Garrett Richards that early in the season. Forget about Andrew Heaney or Nock Tropeano. This will be where Rucinski gets the call up. Aches and pains might determine who Drew-Ru replaces on the active roster but if all things are equal, Alvarez may get sent down. Barring a struggle in both starts by Santiago, Rucinski will get sent down immediately after that start and be repaced with an innings eater from Salt Lake. Then Santiago will start on April 15 and pitchers 1-2-3 will go in the April 17, 18, 19 series in Houston. Alvarez will then be stretched out as a starting pitcher in AAA.
If Santiago has been adequate he will get the start on regular rest when the Angels finish in Houston and return home against Oakland on April 20.
At this point four Angels pitchers will have each had three starts and one Halo pitcher will have started a game on April 14.
Look for Garrett Richards to return to Anaheim for a start against the Athletics on April 21. The rotation will then be Richards, Weaver, Wilson, Shoemaker, Santiago.
A lot can change between setting things up on paper and the day to day roster navigation as reality interferes with a manager's plans. But often times things happen like they were laid out to happen and this, barring a major personnel change, seems to be the likeliest scenario.