Santiago quietly making case for All-Star nod

Santiago quietly making case for All-Star nod

ANAHEIM -- Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, David Price, Hector Santiago. That's what the American League ERA leaderboard looked like (minimum 80 innings pitched) after Monday's games.

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Through his 14 starts, Santiago -- who lowered his mark to 2.68 with six innings of two-hit, one-run baseball in the Angels' 4-3 win over the American League West-leading Astros -- has a better ERA than the likes Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez. That's All-Star company he's in, and with the All-Star break looming…

"I'm looking forward to my four days off," Santiago laughed. "If I get a phone call and something happens differently, so be it. … I'll enjoy it if it does. If not, I'm OK with it."

And, of course, Santiago hasn't pitched as well as, say, Sale, on his historic run of double-digit strikeout games. The Angels' lefty is not the dominant pitcher a Gray or Price is. He's averaging more than three walks per nine innings, and he's in the top 10 in the league in home runs allowed, having surrendered his 13th Monday night.

But, in the vast majority of his starts, Santiago has pitched well enough to give his team the chance to win. He's not giving up many runs, despite his shakier peripheral stats.

"Hector's shown a lot of resiliency," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Maybe he's started out a game a little bit off, pitch counts might be up early, but once he finds it, he has a knack. He's got great deception. He's got really good life on his pitches. He's really having, quietly, a tremendous year for us."

"Quietly" being the operative word -- but maybe Santiago should be getting more attention for the season he's having. He's gone from having to win the fifth spot in the rotation at Spring Training to being the team's most consistent starter.

"Last year, it was kind of like I was timid, because it was a new team, new organization, still trying to prove myself," Santiago said. "Right now, I feel like I have nothing to prove. I just go out there and pitch."

David Adler is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.