Santana to be limited to 15 outs in next start

Santana to be limited to 15 outs in next start

Santana to be limited to 15 outs in next start
ANAHEIM -- Short on explanations, limited with alternatives and lacking in patience, the Angels have an idea -- perhaps one last idea -- that they hope will get Ervin Santana back on track as a starting pitcher.

No, Santana's next turn in the rotation will not be skipped. He'll start on Friday against the light-hitting Rays, but will be limited. Not on a pitch count, but with an out count, per se. Manager Mike Scioscia wants to limit him to only 15 outs, a strategy he's previously deployed with the struggling Aaron Sele and Scott Kazmir.

The theory is that Santana can be more aggressive and use his best stuff on hitters if he doesn't have to worry about facing them a fourth time through the order. And it's that early aggressiveness that may help his confidence -- something that tends to waiver when battered for a 6.00 ERA and 23 homers in 19 starts.

Santana has been a hindrance for the Angels most of the year. But with Dan Haren recently fighting ongoing lower-back stiffness, Jerome Williams' struggles sending him to the bullpen and no starter being acquired before the non-waiver Trade Deadline just yet, the Angels need an effective Santana.

And that's why they're not giving up just yet.

"I think we're in a position right now that we need production from our rotation and we need Ervin to pitch like he can," Scioscia said, "and hopefully peeling him back to 15 outs will be something that'll be a positive for him and try to get him back on track.

"I think this is more of a tool just to get him to not worry about saving anything for later in the game, and right now we're in a position where we need him to move forward."

The Angels can afford Santana to not pitch past five innings because they have an off-day on Thursday and will thus have a fresher bullpen.

Of course, there's a chance Santana won't even get 15 outs.

In two of his last three starts, he didn't even get six. He was tagged for eight runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings against the Indians on July 4. Then, against the Rangers on Saturday, he gave up six runs on eight hits (three of them homers) in 1 2/3 innings.

"If you tell me, I'd probably make the adjustment," Santana said when asked why he just can't seem to figure it out. "I just do the best I can right now, and every bullpen I throw is getting better and better, but [I'm] just not getting the results yet."

Is this his last chance?

"We're not there yet," Scioscia said. "We need production, but Ervin's a guy that has pitched very well for us previously, and obviously if a pitcher continues to go in the wrong direction, you're faced with those decisions you are. But we'll take this one step at a time."