Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ervin Santana has notched 4 quality starts in his first 4 starts of the season

By Victor Varadi - Columnist

Overall Record: 12-8 Games Ahead: 2 (Tied with the Oakland A’s) Week Record: 5-2

Week in Review:

Last year Ervin Santana couldn’t pitch at home or on the road. He was demoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and there was talk as the 2008 season started that Ervin should start thinking about a career as a bullpen specialist. After his play this week, Ervin Santana might start day-dreaming about building a special trophy case for all his Cy Young awards. Ervin Santana has clearly turned a corner; this week he threw 15 innings in two games and gave up a combined 4 runs while striking out 14 and walking one. Joe Saunders continued to shine, going 8 strong innings in a win over the Mariners.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where anyone could have predicted that 3 weeks into the season Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders would be the two most dominant starters on the team. As was mentioned last week, if those 2 can continue to pitch like this, adding John Lackey to the mix will easily make this rotation the best in the game.

Honorable Mention: The bullpen gave up 2 runs this week, only one of them was earned.

The offense has been even better than advertised. Torii Hunter raised his average 25 points this week and is now batting .319. Chone Figgins’ OBP at week’s end is .473. Erick Aybar has seemingly won the starting job at short stop by playing ridiculously good defense while also hitting the baseball with authority. There was never any doubt that Aybar could play some wicked defense. And on the offensive side he is doing everything right; he is hitting the ball hard, bunting for hits and turning the lineup back over to Figgins.

The Bottom Line: The starting rotation is only going to get better in a few weeks when John Lackey makes his return. And while guys like Saunders and Santana continue to dominate, the bullpen has begun to take shape, showing the form that Angels fans have become accustomed to. The team continues to fire on all cylinders offensively, and is virtually neck and neck with the Boston Red Sox in most categories.

The Week Ahead:

The Angels dominated two of its division foes by winning 4 out of 5 against the Rangers and Mariners, respectively. Now the Angels have to take their show on the road and go outside its division against two teams that were pre-season favorites to go deep into the playoffs come September, the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The Angels will send Jered Weaver, Jon Garland and Joe Saunders to face Boston’s top 3 in Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester. With Santana, Moseley and Weaver then set to face the Tigers and a potent offense that is slowly rising from its slumber, the Angels should be delighted with a 3-3 split over the next seven days.
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