Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher is on the hot seat

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Craig Calcaterra wrote yesterday about how manager Mike Scioscia’s job is probably safe despite the Angels’ recent struggles, but the same isn’t necessarily true about pitching coach Mike Butcher.

For one thing coaches tend to get the ax first–hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired in May–especially when the manager involved has been with the team for such a long time. And for another thing the Angels’ pitching staff has mostly been a mess.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times asked Butcher about fan criticism and the perception his job could be in jeopardy, and Butcher replied:

I’m not going to defend my job, because I know how good I am. I know what I bring to the table every day. I know I get these guys prepared. They work every day. Nothing is going to change the way I go about preparing the guys.

I’m always looking to improve, but as far as worrying about myself? I’m not. These last few weeks have been rough. We’re not pitching to our capabilities. Obviously, it shows. It’s never been about me when things are going good. When things go bad, you take it personal.

Scioscia also stuck up for Butcher, who’s been his pitching coach since 2006.

Before the All-Star break the Angels had the second-best ERA in the American League at 3.61, but since the All-Star break their staff ERA is a league-worst 5.58.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.