Angels Doing More With Less

Despite an injury-ravaged patchwork lineup now featuring the likes of Efran Navarro in left field, Luis Jimenez at third base, reserve second baseman Grant Green playing left field, and Mike Trout suffering through what seems like the worst slump of his career, the much maligned (and until recently deservedly so) Angels’ pitching staff has now been turning in solid performances and has been the impetus for five wins in their last six games, as the team has moved into second place, inching closer to first place Oakland.

Mike Scioscia has done a masterful job piecing together lineups, moving the likes of Jimenez, Navarro, C.J. Cron, Brennan Boesch, and others in and out, and moving Grant to the outfield.

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With Kole Calhoun, Josh Hamilton, David Freese and Ian Stewart all on the disabled list, with Mike Trout hitting almost 40 points below his career .309 average, it has been the former and now once-again ace Jered Weaver, new closer (at least some of the time) Joe Smith, and former phenom and now solid major league starter Garrett Richards leading the way.

After a slow start to 2014 followed his injury-
plagued 2013, there were some worries about Weaver returning to form, but he has now won his last three starts, and four of his last five, surrendering more than a single run in only one of those outings.

But even with all that, Richards is giving Weaver a run for his money, especially after last night’s performance, pitching seven shutout innings against the Phillies for his fourth win against zero losses, and lowering his ERA to 2.42. He gave up only five hits and walked none, lowering his excellent WHIP to 1.06.

Pretty much alternating save opportunities with Ernesto Frieri, Smith has still been excellent overall, converting five of his six save opportunities since first getting the ball in the ninth inning on April 28. Since the low point of Frieri's season on April 23 when he blew a three run lead and the game against Washington, he has also fared well in this alternating system. In nine appearances since,

he has been scored on in only one game, but of course that one was a game where he entered in a tie game in the ninth, and surrendered the losing run.

Tyler Skaggs has also pitched very well, and he and Richards now have seven wins between them. Compare that to the total of six wins for the entire 2013 season between last year’s number three and four starters at season’s start, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton.

The Angels could be on track for their best season in more than a decade.

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