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Halos to face tough call when Skaggs returns

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CLEVELAND -- Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs threw his scheduled bullpen session before rain caused a postponement of Wednesday's game and felt good coming out of it, according to a team official. The 22-year-old, placed on the 15-day disabled list June 10 because of a strained right hamstring, hopes to face hitters in a simulated game on Saturday, which would set him up to return to the rotation early next week.

At some point before then, the Angels will have a tough decision on their hands.

Hector Santiago started the year in the rotation and has pitched well since returning from Triple-A Salt Lake, throwing six shutout innings against the A's on June 10 and then five scoreless frames against the Braves on Sunday before getting hit around a bit in the sixth. Matt Shoemaker, meanwhile, is coming off throwing eight innings of two-run ball against the Indians on Tuesday and is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in six starts.

Soon, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will have to pick one of them.

"When you have five spots, and you have six guys really throwing well, that's a nice position to be in, and it's an important position to be in as an organization," Scioscia said. "It will be a tough decision, but it's something that's going to reflect the strength of our club."

The decision can be made before Skaggs is even activated. Wednesday's postponement pushed C.J. Wilson back to Thursday, Garrett Richards back to Friday and left two open dates heading into Monday's off-day. Jered Weaver will take the ball either on Saturday or Sunday, and the other game against the Rangers will be started by Santiago or Shoemaker, with the other getting skipped.

The Angels could deploy one of them in the bullpen, either as a swing man or, in Santiago's case, a matchup lefty. But that wouldn't be a permanent stay. At some point, Scioscia wants one of them to go down to Triple-A to stay stretched out so that the organization can preserve its starting-pitching depth.

"The bottom line is guys who are giving you a chance to win," Scioscia said. "Right now, it's obvious that Matt has done that, and it's obvious that Hector has done that his last two starts. In that context, those guys are doing everything they can to help us to make a great argument that they should remain in the rotation, and that's a great position for all of us to be in."

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.

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