ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia will be extra cognizant of his starters' workload over these final three and a half weeks. That applies to Garrett Richards, the 25-year-old right-hander who has already thrown 115 1/3 innings in a season that has seen him shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen. And it also applies to Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas, even though they missed a combined 18 or so starts due to injury.
"They haven't pitched much, but you know what, as you start to get start after start and keep the innings piling up, as these guys have since they've gotten back -- they've consistently pitched deep in games -- that's going to be something you have to pay attention to," said Scioscia, who held a pregame meeting with the three starters Thursday. "But they all feel good, they feel strong, and they're performing better."
With Vargas and Weaver healthy at the same time, the Angels are finally getting consistent production from their rotation. Since Aug. 15, Angels starters -- including C.J. Wilson and Jerome Williams -- have compiled a 3.35 ERA, fourth lowest in the Majors.
There's a slight chance that staff will expand to six later this month, particularly when Tommy Hanson, who has struggled to a 5.49 ERA in four Triple-A starts, rejoins the team after the Pacific Coast League playoffs. But Scioscia hasn't decided yet.
The Angels have one off-day remaining this season, on Sept. 19.
"I don't know what's going to happen once we expand," Scioscia said. "We'll look at a lot of different things, and see what pitchers are going to come up and get a look, and see where they are. But I think it's really important for this group to keep playing strong, playing hard, playing well. And like we talked about, next year begins today still. You have to keep moving towards it."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.