Right when the Angels are starting to make things interesting as they try to hunt down one of the wild-card spots -- they've won 11 of their past 14 games -- comes news that Jered Weaver is likely to miss his start Friday against the Tigers.
If he misses just one game, it's not a huge deal -- although it hurts that it's against the Tigers, a team that Angels are conceivably fighting against for the playoffs. On the other hand, one game could be the difference between having a 50/50 shot at advancing to the Division Series or hitting the golf course.
Over his past five starts Weaver has allowed 21 runs in 29.1 innings (6.14 ERA) and allowed seven home runs. If that August slide rings a bell, it's because the same thing happened last season. Through Aug. 5 of 2011, Weaver was 14-5 with a 1.78 ERA and just eight home runs allowed. He then went through a five-start stretch where he allowed 22 runs in 29.2 innings ... with seven home runs allowed. He did correct himself after that, allowing seven runs over his final four starts, although he did give up a total of 12 home runs over those final nine starts.
I don't think there's too much to read into all that other than the randomness of his "slumps" coming at exactly the same time. You'd rather have Weaver moving forward than ... well, I guess Jerome Williams (6-7, 4.59 ERA) would get the start in his place. In one game, Williams is certainly capable of a quality start. If Weaver's injury proves more serious and he misses a few starts or even the rest of the season, then the damage may be felt.
Still, it sort of leaves us where we've been all season with the Angels: They need Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana to deliver some good outings. After a rough patch, Zack Greinke has allowed just four runs over his past three starts. As for Haren, after allowing at least one home run in 10 consecutive starts, he's been homerless his past two outings. Good sign or more random results? Santana has been better, with a 3.63 ERA and .194 average allowed over his past seven starts (although still prone to the long ball with nine home runs). After an 11-start winless streak, Wilson has won his past two starts, although the results were only marginally better.
The biggest problem the Angels face is time: They're fifth in the wild-card race (with the Tigers a half-game behind them), so have to leapfrog past at least three teams to make the playoffs. They need to keep winning, but just catching the A's may not be enough. They'll need some help from those above them.