The Angels entered Friday, the final day of August, with three teams to jump and 3 1/2 games to make up just to get that second American League Wild Card spot. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia has already mapped it out so that his ace, Jered Weaver, pitches either the final game of the regular season or the Wild Card elimination game without ever having to go on short rest.
Weaver, the one constant in an underachieving rotation, will make his 25th start of the season on Sunday. If he pitches every fifth day from there -- except on Sept. 18, when he goes on six days' rest after the Sept. 17 off-day -- he'd line up to pitch the Oct. 3 regular-season finale against the Mariners at Safeco Field. If the Angels clinch a playoff spot before then, he can be pushed back to pitch the Wild Card game on Oct. 5.
First, of course, the Angels have to put themselves in that position.
"It's going to take more than Jered for us to reach our goal, so these guys all have to get us to a certain spot, and hopefully give us an opportunity to reach our goal," Scioscia said. "If we have to adjust one way or another, up or back, it'll change some things. But he's got the maximum amount of starts he really could get, and he lines up for the last day, which gives us a little flexibility."
Weaver will pitch in a lot of critical matchups between those two starts against the Mariners. He'll start against the Tigers (Sept. 7), Athletics (Sept. 12), Rangers (Sept. 18), White Sox (Sept. 23) and Rangers (Sept. 28).
The Angels wouldn't have it any other way. On the year, Weaver is 16-3 with a 2.85 ERA and an AL-low 0.987 WHIP.
The rest of the rotation: 38-41 with a 4.61 ERA.
Scioscia doesn't anticipate going to a four-man staff in September, though. The rotation is pitching better as a whole lately, posting a 3.99 ERA in nine games heading into Friday's series opener against the Mariners, and the Angels' skipper mentioned that some of his starters "have been nicked up."
"That would entail bringing some guys back on early rest," Scioscia said of going to a four-man staff. "Our preference would be to not do that. That would be a last resort."