Sunday, May 18, 2008

By Victor Varadi - Columnist

Overall Record: 26-20 Games Ahead: 1.5 Week Record: 4-3

Week in Review:

Jered Weaver may have some of the uglier starts week in and week out, but it is hard to argue with his line. Weaver has not fared well thus far in the win column, but he continues to post solid outings and keep his team in games. This week was no different; Weaver gave up 2 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. Jon Garland has shown better form of late even though he had little to show for it this week, garnering a no-decision in a quality start versus his former team. There aren’t very many teams that wouldn’t love to have Weaver and Garland anchoring the back-end of their rotations.

Ervin Santana didn’t have his best outing of the season, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings against the Dodgers, but he showed some serious moxie after getting into trouble early. Ervin continues to impress and is making a case for staff ace. Joe Saunders got his seventh win of the season in dominating fashion. The Dodgers scattered 5 hits and 2 runs over 7 1/3 innings against the Angels lefty. Finally, Angels fans got their wish this week with the long overdue 2008 season debut of John Lackey. Big John proved why he is the staff ace; Lackey threw 7 innings and gave up only one run but received a no-decision.

Honorable Mention: Nick Adenhart. In his last start before being shipped off the Salt Lake in order to make room for John Lackey, Adenhart FINALLY got his first major league win. Highly touted prospect Adenhart’s overall performance while up with the big club went a long way to proving that GM Reagins was on to something when he traded for what seemed like an over abundance of starting pitching. While scouts may continue to dote on baby-faced Nick, he still has a lot to prove before he can start shopping for real estate in the O.C.

Offensively, Garret Anderson went 14 for 28 (.500), 4 runs, 4 RBI, 2 doubles and a triple, rewarding Mick Scioscia for not benching him when some fans were calling for his early retirement. Casey Kotchman has had a slow start to May but he has rebounded in the last couple of games. All in all, Kotch has provided pop and depth to a lineup suffering from a lack of output from Vlad Guererro.

There has been some talk that Mike Napoli is a candidate for the DH position. In Sunday’s game versus the Dodgers, Naps homered, singled and homered again, driving in 5 runs in the Sunday blowout. What is most startling about Napoli’s numbers is that he has 23 hits so far this season and 10 of them are home runs. His average is above the .250 mark, and coupled with Gary Matthews’ slide into the abyss, the DH role for Napoli might be just around the corner.

The Bottom Line: John Lackey returned to the rotation this week and showed little signs of the injury that kept him out the first 6 weeks of the season. Lackey’s injury not only allowed Santana and Saunders to shine, but it might also mean that big John is a little bit fresher come game 1 of the ALDS. A top 3 of Lackey, Santana and Saunders is exactly what a Championship is made from.

The Week Ahead:

The Angels go on the road to Toronto where they struggled mightily last season. However, they may luck out and not have to face Blue Jays ace, Roy Halladay. The Angels will send Lackey, Garland and Saunders to face a possible threesome of McGowan, Marcum and Litsch. After visiting Toronto the team heads to Chicago for a 3-game series against the surging White Sox. This will be a tough week on the road for the Angels and a 3-3 trip would have the team sleeping well on the flight back to California.

Love to hear what you think!


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