The Angels made the choice to carry 12 pitchers on the ALDS roster against the Royals, which might not look remarkable at first glance. After all, most teams carry 12 pitchers all season long these days.
Mike Scioscia’s Angels, though, are carrying 12 pitchers against the Royals even though the plan calls for them to use just three starters in the five games. Ace Jered Weaver is slated to go on short rest in Game 4, and with the two off days, Game 2 starter Matt Shoemaker can go on normal rest in Game 5.
That leaves the Halos with an utterly unnecessary nine-man bullpen for five games in seven days. Even having played a pair of 11-inning games against the Royals, they’ve used only six of their relievers and they wouldn’t have chosen to dig that deep except for the fact that they gave themselves so many options to start with.
Those extra pitchers came at the expense of useful role players. Most notably absent is speedy outfielder Tony Campana, a great September and October kind of bit player with his ability to pinch-run and play excellent outfield defense.
Without Campana available, the Angels’ top pinch-running option in Friday’s Game 2 loss to the Royals was Collin Cowgill, an above average runner but by no means a burner. He stole four bases in 260 at-bats for the Angels this year. He’s 12-for-18 stealing bases in 253 career major league games. Campana is 66-for-75 stealing bases in 257 games.
Cowgill ran for C.J. Cron after a leadoff double in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game tonight. He then tried for third on Chris Iannetta’s flyout to center, only to be gunned down on a great throw from Jarrod Dyson. It was a worthy attempt by Cowgill, but there’s little doubt that Campana, in his place, would have made it to third. The next batter, Kole Calhoun, hit a grounder to second that most likely would have scored Campana, though, of course, things might have gone differently had Wade Davis been pitching with a man on base.
Having Cowgill pinch-run also denied the Angels of their best pinch-hitting option for Josh Hamilton, had they elected to go that route. As bad as Hamilton had looked, I imagine Scioscia would have pulled the trigger and had Cowgill bat in his place against left-hander Brandon Finnegan with a man on and one out in the bottom of the 10th. Hamilton went on to hit into a double play, leaving him 0-for-9 in the series. The Angels went on to surrender three runs in the 11th and lose 4-1.
Instead of giving themselves more offensive options, the Angels prepared for the worst-case scenario with their pitching staff, even though they were facing a rather low scoring offense. The truth is that if the Angels were really in a position in which they needed nine relievers to get through the series against the Royals, they were doomed anyway.