Shortly before he walked out the door of the clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Texas to catch a flight for Seattle on Sunday afternoon, Joel Pineiro paused for a moment to reflect on what tonight's start might be like. Pineiro, a sinkerball pitcher, hasn't thrown a pitch in a game since Aug. 20, nine days ago.
What can he expect?
"We'll find out," Pineiro said. "I have no idea. I've never done this before."
The Angels have reached the dark side of pitching Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana on short rest during their key three-game series in Texas. Results were mixed in the first half of the experiment. They won the game Santana pitched and lost the game Weaver pitched.
Now comes Phase Two. Their No. 4 and 5 starters, Pineiro and Jerome Williams, have to pitch after having their routines disrupted. It's not as if these four games are any less crucial to the Angels than the previous three and, with Felix Hernandez looming in Game 3, the Angels probably can't afford to lose both these games. They trail Texas by three games.
"That's something you look at, too: How far are you pushing guys back?" manager Mike Scioscia said. "With JP, the rest helped him find his game when we moved him to the bullpen. Jerome should be fine with it. It's not like they'll be pitching on seven days' rest every time out. They've been pretty regular."
Both Williams and Pineiro rely on sinking pitches to various degrees to get outs, which raises the possibility that they'll be less effective in these starts. Many sinkerball pitches would rather pitch with a slightly tired arm than when they're fully charged. The ball seems to sink more that way.
"If I stay on top of the ball, hopefully my stuff will be sharper and my arm will feel rest," Pineiro said.