Williams staking claim to 2012 rotation spot

Williams staking claim to 2012 rotation spot

Williams staking claim to 2012 rotation spot
ANAHEIM -- With his superb work down the stretch -- going 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts and nine appearances -- Jerome Williams has become the leading in-house candidate to assume one of the spots behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in the Angels' 2012 rotation.

Williams, 29, is one of the season's most endearing comeback stories. He began the season in an independent league in Pennsylvania after spending last year pitching in Taiwan. The Angels signed him in June and sent him to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he quickly emerged as the team's best starter.

His eye-opening performance with the Angels included a clutch victory on Saturday night against the A's, keeping his team afloat in its pursuit of the American League Wild Card berth. It was probably Williams' final start unless the Angels reach the postseason or have a playoff game for the Wild Card ticket.

He will be arbitration-eligible for next season, under control of the Angels.

"Jerome is definitely a guy that has shown his stuff and has played a prominent role in the big leagues when pitching to his capabilities," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Sunday. "He's somebody that's jumped up on our depth chart through his performance and pitching the way he does."

By that, Scioscia means pounding the strike zone with a deep repertoire of pitches, keeping the ball down and getting ground balls with runners on base.

"As his career moves forward and we move into another year," Scioscia said, "there's no doubt that he's going to have an opportunity to pitch for us and even have a prominent role."

What has impressed the boss most about the former No. 1 Draft pick of the Giants who hadn't won a Major League game since 2005 or started one since 2007?

"Just pitching back in the big leagues from where he's come, and pitching with such a sense of purpose," Scioscia said. "It shows that he's not intimidated by any situation. He trusts his ability and he's going to win or lose on making pitches. He's shown that."

If free agent Joel Pineiro does not return and another starter isn't acquired, Tyler Chatwood and Garrett Richards are the leading candidates to fill a rotation spot in 2012.