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09/29/09 10:19 PM ET
Angels shuffle rotation in wake of title
Kazmir, Weaver pulled back in preparation for ALDS
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- As he prepares to reset his rotation for the American League Division Series, giving no hints about the identity of his starters or the order in which they'll work, manager Mike Scioscia of the AL West champion Angels pulled a surprise on Tuesday evening. Removing scheduled starter Scott Kazmir, Scioscia nominated rookie right-hander Sean O'Sullivan to take the mound against Rangers 17-game winner Scott Feldman at Angel Stadium. O'Sullivan, who won his Major League debut with a superb effort in San Francisco on June 16, pitched a no-hitter for Triple-A Salt Lake this season. The native of El Cajon, outside San Diego, entered the game 3-2 with a 6.45 ERA in 10 appearances, nine as a starter, having worked 44 2/3 innings. Scioscia, rather than going with Jered Weaver as planned, said there will be another surprise starter on Wednesday night, with speculation centering on another rookie right-hander Trevor Bell or Matt Palmer, who has flourished both as a starter and middle reliever in going 10-2 with a 4.17 ERA in 38 games. Palmer has made 12 starts, working a total of 114 1/3 innings. Bell is 1-1 with a 9.50 ERA in seven games, four as a starter. Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher have tossed around a variety of options and possibilities with respect to the rotation and whether to go with a staff of 10 or 11 pitchers. In a five-game series with travel days, a 10-man rotation is more likely, providing the opportunity for Scioscia to expand his bench with another position player. "We're making some adjustments to our rotation -- there are a lot of things we're considering," Scioscia said when asked about his prospective starters in the ALDS, which will start either Wednesday, Oct. 7, or Thursday, Oct. 8. The Yankees, with the best record in the league, are allowed to choose which series they prefer and are expected to take the longer one, with the Oct. 7 start. "As things start to clarify by the end of this weekend," Scioscia said, "we'll have everything announced." An educated guess would have Scioscia going with John Lackey and Weaver in Games 1 and 2 at home, with Kazmir and Joe Saunders -- lefties with histories of success in Boston -- going in Games 3 and 4. That would send Ervin Santana, who shut out Texas in the division clincher on Monday night, to the bullpen, where he has excelled in the past. Weaver also had a positive bullpen experience, getting the Angels' only win against the Red Sox in last year's ALDS with two innings of scoreless relief in Game 3 at Fenway Park.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.