"We've hit about a month of just not pitching to our capabilities," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "And I know they're all trying. They're doing the work, they're very diligent about doing their things, they're definitely prepared for every game. We're not asking them to do too much. The plan is what they can do based on things that they can do, what they can bring to the table when they're out there."
Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have combined to appear in seven All-Star Games and are making $47.45 million this season, but all have been underperforming -- some only lately, some all year.
Greinke has a 5.68 ERA in three starts since joining the Angels; Wilson has given up 14 runs (11 earned) over his last 10 1/3 innings; Haren surrendered seven runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings on Saturday, putting his ERA at 4.68; and though Santana has shown signs of improvement lately, he has a 5.82 ERA on the year and hasn't completed seven innings since June 23.
Butcher mentioned that "health has played a little part of this." Haren continues to say the stiff lower back that landed him on the disabled list in early July is no longer a problem, and manager Mike Scioscia reiterated Sunday that he has no reason to believe any of his starters have health issues that would go so far as hindering their performance.
But the rigors of a season may be catching up to everyone at the same time.
"At certain points of the season, you're not going to be feeling well," Butcher added. "That's just the nature of the game. Unfortunately right now, we're going through some of that -- several guys at the same time. Generally it seems to be spaced out."
Whatever the reason, the rotation is simply performing below expectations. Because of that, a thin and struggling bullpen has had to take on a lot of innings, giving the Angels the worst ERA in the AL since July 30 (6.04). And because of that, fans have wondered about Butcher's job status, even though he guided the best pitching staff in the AL just last season.
Butcher wasn't happy when asked about concerns over his job security on Sunday. Asked earlier about how difficult these last few weeks have been on him, he said: "It's not about me. It's not about me when they're going good, it's not about me when they're going bad. It's never about me. It's all about them. So it's whatever I can give them. That's how I look at it. They have to go out there and they have to perform. Period. That's all there is to it."