|Rules at Bay in September||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on September 04, 2011
As much as he wants to, Jered Weaver doesn't seem capable of carrying the Angels.¬†¬† His most recent outing against the Rangers on three days' rest gave definition to the term effort, but it also showed a lack of sharpness that simply isn't what we've come to expect from this Cy Young contender.
Still if it hadn't been the first place Rangers, a team with one of the most explosive offenses in the game, Weaver might have toughed through it and picked up a win.¬† And that is what the Angels need right now.
Short rest is probably in the cards for plenty of other pitchers as teams like the White Sox, Indians, Cardinals, Reds and Giants fight for playoff spots.¬† After all, this is the time for teams to take chances, not just with their aces but even with their prospects, trying to see if someone can throw some critical relief innings or step up so a weary arm can get enough rest for that next critical stop against the team just ahead of them in the standings.
But beating the team ahead of you can't be your only concern. While other teams are trying out their prospects for next season, especially their pitching prospects, contenders need to make hay. ¬† Maybe that means skipping your fifth starter, or pushing a young pitcher to throw more innings than he ever has.¬† Or in the case of the Angels it means asking your number one and two starters to pitch big games on short rest, even if it hurts their overall statistics for the year.
It doesn't have to work out that way.¬† Every team hopes that it'll find a starter who can channel Curt Schilling during the pennant drive and reach down deep to give consistent great performances.¬† But few organizations count on that.¬† There aren't that many money type pitchers in the game, but often a middling performance by a great pitcher is better than what you expect from the tail end of a rotation.
Expect to see the Giants stretching Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, the Indians to ask Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson to step up, the Brewers to put Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke into more big game situations and every other contender to ask their best pitchers for more -- or to reach in desperation to their top prospects, hoping to catch that flicker of lightning in a bottle.
This is the time for pitchers to be heroes. For Cy Young contenders like Jered Weaver, it's a time to make your case for the award votes.¬† For young prospects it's a chance to make an impression, and for old veterans facing free agency it's a chance not just to take your team to the playoffs, but to catch the eye of potential employers for next season.¬† Thrive under pressure and you'll get noticed no matter what your team ends up doing.
September baseball is where the adage that you can never have too much pitching really comes into play.¬† Right now you can see the teams who wish they had more.¬† With fewer and fewer days in the season, teams on the edge will have to ask the aces to give more.¬† Others will cross fingers and hope that their prospects can step up, but everyone has the same goal now, to be playing baseball come October.