In offseason, Halos will re-emphasize pitching

In offseason, Halos will re-emphasize pitching

NEW YORK -- The 2013 season was among the most anticipated in Angels history, and it's setting up to be the worst in Mike Scioscia's tenure in Anaheim.

The Angels entered Thursday's series finale at Yankee Stadium with a four-game losing streak and eight losses in their last 10 games. At 53-66, they were a season-high 13 games under .500. In order to avoid their first 90-loss season since 1999 -- the year before Scioscia took over as skipper -- they have to do better than 19-24 the rest of the way.

This offseason, the Angels' focus will be simple: Pitching, pitching, pitching.

"There's no doubt that pitching is going to be an important focus in the offseason, as it always is, really," Scioscia said. "I don't think there's any doubt that some guys on our pitching staff have underperformed. Our bullpen has underperformed with most of the guys, because of some guys being banged up. I'm sure [general manager Jerry Dipoto is] going to take a very close look at it, and we'll see where everything leads.

The Angels entered Thursday ranked 11th in the American League in starting-pitcher ERA (4.54) and 13th in relief-pitcher ERA (4.42).

How bad has it gone? Look no further than the four arms the team introduced at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney in early December: Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson.

Madson was never able to recover from Tommy John surgery in April 2011 and was released Aug. 6. Burnett appeared in 13 games before being shut down with a torn flexor tendon, though the Angels expect him to be ready to go for Spring Training. Blanton went 2-13 with a 5.66 ERA as a starter and has been pitching in mop-up duty for about a month. And Hanson is in Triple-A, working on mechanical issues after posting a 5.59 ERA in his first 13 starts.

Pitching and defense used to be a staple of Scioscia's Angels. This past offseason, they hoped to build a pitching staff that could hold its own while an offense led by Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton carried them.

Neither component has worked out.

"We have the potential to still do some of the things that we did on the pitching end, and it just didn't fall into place," Scioscia said. "I don't think the organizational philosophy changed, that because you signed Josh and Albert the last couple of years you aren't putting attention on the biggest area of the game, which is pitching and defense. It just hasn't fallen into place."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.