Unlike Yankees, Angels to use four-man rotation for ALCS

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Earlier this week I speculated that the Angels would use four starting pitchers for the ALCS despite the drawn-out schedule making a three-man rotation possible, and after playing coy for a couple days manager Mike Scioscia announced this afternoon that he’ll indeed use John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and Scott Kazmir against the Yankees.
Because the Angels’ rotation depth is one of their biggest strengths shortening up the rotation wouldn’t have benefited them nearly as much as it does the Yankees, who’ll give every ALCS start to the trio of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte while avoiding starts from Chad Gaudin or perhaps Joba Chamberlain. In particular Sabathia will take the mound three times if the series lasts seven games, while fellow Game 1 starter John Lackey will pitch just twice.
Given how things are lined up for the Angels, if the series goes to seven games Sabathia would likely face Weaver, whose first start of the series will come in Game 3 because Scioscia wants him to pitch at home, where he has a 2.90 ERA. Barring any further changes, here are the ALCS game-by-game matchups:
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. John Lackey
Game 2: A.J. Burnett vs. Joe Saunders
Game 3: Andy Pettite vs. Jered Weaver
Game 4: CC Sabathia vs. Scott Kazmir
Game 5: A.J. Burnett vs. John Lackey
Game 6: Andy Pettite vs. Joe Saunders
Game 7: CC Sabathia vs. Jered Weaver
Right now the Yankees are around 1.75-to-1 favorites for the whole series.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.