September 12, 2012
The Mysterious Resurgence of Ervin Santana
On July 30, Mike Scioscia told Ervin Santana that, no matter what happened, Santana was not going to pitch more than five innings in that day’s game. Santana had been struggling. Santana had been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Santana’s ERA was 6.00. So the Angels wanted to reset him with one short outing, an outing in which Santana wouldn’t have to worry about pacing himself and wouldn’t have to hold his mechanics together for quite as long. It’s a trick Scioscia had tried before, most recently with Scott Kazmir, and it’s a trick that you probably don’t hear talked about very often, because Scott Kazmir.
Santana made it through those five innings. They weren’t his best five innings, but he survived them and managed to lower his ERA a tick. Since then, Santana has made seven full starts, and he has arguably been the Angels’ most effective starter in that stretch: a 3.30 ERA, and not a single game score below 50. So, did it work?
First, some context for his struggles. The Angels had, by July 30, put the blame on Santana’s arm slot, and particularly his arm slot on the slider. Scioscia:
“It's plagued him probably at times over his career where his arm slot will get away from him a little bit, particularly with throwing a couple different looks on his fastball and his slider.”
Has be been dropping his arm?