The Angels are excited, and justifiably so. They are on pace for their first playoff spot since 2009, with an 8 1/2 game lead in the American League wild-card standings.
Yet they are winning with a starting rotation that is a better fit for the long haul of the regular season than for the ace-heavy postseason. After the Oakland Athletics traded for Jon Lester and the Detroit Tigers added David Price on Thursday, the Angels will have to reprise their 2002 championship strategy to succeed this October: Outslug the other guys.
The Angels have the second-best record in the major leagues. They are 2 1/2 games behind the A's in the American League West, so a division title is within reach.
But, if the standings hold, the Angels would qualify for the one-game wild-card playoff. The opponent could be the Toronto Blue Jays, who could start veteran soft-tosser Mark Buehrle or knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The opponent might be the Seattle Mariners, who could start Felix Hernandez.
The Angels' best pitcher, Garrett Richards, 26, has thrown 144 innings this season, 13 shy of his career high. None of the other starters -- Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago or Matt Shoemaker -- is significantly better than a league-average pitcher, according to the ERA+ statistic, in which 100 represents average.
If the Angels win the wild-card playoff game, they would advance to the division series against the AL team with the best record -- right now, the A's, with Lester, Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kamzir, all well above league average.
If the Angels were to beat the A's, they would advance to the AL championship series -- perhaps against the Tigers, with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and now Price.
Swing away, boys.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times