ANAHEIM -- With the benefit of Monday's off day, the Angels are buying Dan Haren eight days between starts, pushing him back to next Saturday's game against the Tigers in Comerica Park. The hope is that he'll use that time to get his release point back and perhaps revert to the pitcher they're used to seeing.
"I think he is past the physical ailment," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Friday, referencing the stiff lower back that placed him on the disabled list for the first time in his career in early July. "This is a mechanical thing, and it could've arisen from trying to make some adjustments in his delivery to get pitches in places when his back was bothering him."
Haren has given up five earned runs while failing to pitch through the fourth inning in each of his last two starts against the Mariners and Rays, two of the bottom four offenses in the American League, putting him at 8-10 with a 4.90 ERA on the year.
In those outings, Haren has hardly reached 90 mph with his fastball, has constantly been in unfavorable counts, has mostly abandoned a splitter that tails and doesn't sink and has tried to compensate for it all with a heavy dose of cutters.
"A cutter is only going to be effective if you have that fastball combo working," Scioscia said. "It's tough to just go out there and pound the cutter."
Barring "extreme circumstances," Haren won't be available to pitch out of the bullpen in between starts, Scioscia said. Another option could've been to go with Jerome Williams on Saturday and skip Haren yet another turn.
"But right now," Scioscia added, "we feel it's definitely worth seeing if Dan can get back on board. And it makes sense just to push him back to that spot and give him some time to work on some things."
Ervin Santana will pitch on five days' rest on Tuesday, with Jered Weaver (Wednesday), C.J. Wilson (Thursday) and Zack Greinke (Friday) lining up on schedule the rest of the week.
A four-man rotation is "no doubt" a possibility once the Angels work themselves into September, but they feel their best current option is still to try to get Haren back on track.
"I have to be better," Haren said after Thursday's 7-0 loss to the Rays. "It's kind of been a broken record for me. I've just been too inconsistent this season. I'll have a couple good starts, and then I'll disappear for a while. I have to be more consistent. I have to give the team a better chance to win."