Critical Moment for MLB’s Best Team, the LA Angels

In a season that has seen the America League West leading Los Angeles Angels use only six different starting pitchers through their first 125 games, they have established themselves as the best team in baseball and are currently on a three game win streak, having also won eight of their last ten. Now possessing a one-and-one-half lead over the media darling Oakland A’s, the prior “best team in baseball”, the team is now facing an unexpected and unwanted crossroads – how to carry on without their pitching ace?

Having lost starter Tyler Skaggs just a few days ago, now Garrett Richards is also through, having suffered a torn patellar tendon during last night's game at Fenway Park. The prognosis is that Richards will be out six to nine months, but don't expect him to step on to a major league mound again before next summer.

Not only does the team face an emotional blow, but also a significant roster problem - missing two of their
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six starters, with no fill-ins on the major league roster and with little help at AAA, how does Mike Scioscia fill the hole? The immediate answer was by recalling Wade LeBlanc from AAA Salt Lake City, where he was an impressive 10-3 in 21 starts, with 116 strikeouts in 123 innings, despite a 4.00 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. The 30-year-old former San Diego Padre starter, however, in two major league appearances this season, one with the yankees and one with the Angels, allowed six earned runs in only seven-plus innings. He showed some early promise when he first came up with the Padres, but his best season was an unremarkable 8-12 in 2010.

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Rumors abound that Jerry Dipoto will be looking hard at aged veterans such as Bartolo Colon, doing well with the Mets this season, and even 38-year-old Randy Wolf, who was 1-3 with a 5.26 ERA in six appearances for Miami earlier this season, but who has gone 5-2 in 17 minor
league appearances since. More long term possibilities include the Rockies Jorge De La Rosa who has apparently been shopped for several weeks.

Perhaps an even bigger question is who among the current staff will step up and perform, and the clear answer as to who that has to be is C.J. Wilson. Wilson had a disappointing 2012 in his first season as an Angel, but came back strong last season to go 17-7. Through this season, in which he has fought nagging injuries, he has been inconsistent, and he now needs to improve drastically on his 10-8, 4.59, and 1.42 WHIP if the team is to overcome the devastating loss of Richards.

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