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Is the Los Angeles Angels Pitching Staff Going to Cost the Team a Playoff Spot?

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COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Angels dropped yet another game to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, August 17, and the worst part of it was that ace Jered Weaver looked as bad as ever.

Weaver got shelled, giving up a career-worst nine runs on eight hits and was chased from the game after only three innings of work. The bullpen was able to stop the bleeding, allowing only three more runs for the remainder of the game.

But the damage was already done.

The fact that it was Weaver, who has been rock-solid for the Halos, that had such a dismal outing is an indictment on the state of the starting rotation. With a 6.00 ERA in the month of August, they are clearly the problem.

The team is feeling the pain as well. The Angels are just 4-11 in August going into Saturday's game against the Rays at home. Things have gotten so bad, that manager Mike Scioscia is nearly on the hot seat.

Lofty Expectations

Sometimes the pressure of high expectations can cause players to slump. That's precisely what seems to be the case with the Angels, who have arguably the best starting rotation on paper.

That distinction was solidified when the team added Zack Greinke via trade in July, but he's been a part of the ongoing problem with respect to the starters.

Tabbed as a potential savior to the pitching staff, he picked up his first win in four starts on a shaky August 14, 2012 outing against the Cleveland Indians while allowing four earned runs. With a 1-1 record, 5.54 ERA, and .307 opposing batting average, he's not getting the job done.

Neither is anyone else.

Along with Weaver and Greinke, left-hander C.J. Wilson has some work to do to justify his high price tag. He's 0-3 in his last five starts and has a 5.34 ERA. For $77.5 million, underachieving doesn't even begin to describe the situation.

Playing with Pressure

If the Angels hurlers want a crash course in how to deal with pressure, they should look no further than their teammate Albert Pujols.

Pujols suffered through the worst stretch of his professional career and missed the All-Star game. With the largest contract in franchise history ($240 million), he felt the weight of Southern California on his shoulders.

But he was able to come out of it, and since the break has been stellar, batting .300 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI in 32 games. The pitching staff, namely Greinke and Wilson would do well to consult with the slugger on a new approach.

At seven games out of first place behind the Texas Rangers, the Angels have plenty of time to chase down the division leaders. The Wild Card is well within reach as well with the Halos just 2.5 games back.

But even as the hope remains, the time to turn things around is now.

Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Angels and Major League Baseball. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com and is the Editor of SportsOutWest.com. For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter.

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