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How bad do the Angels want to win the division and face the Yankees or Red Sox in the Division Series?  They plan to pitch not one, but two pitchers on three days rest.  In the regular season.  This weekend.  Reportedly, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana will both start on three days rest for the first time in their careers.  Watch out Rangers, the Angels are in it to win it.

In a study conducted by John Charles Bradbury and Sean Forman, both PhD’s, the correlation between pitches thrown and days off for pitchers was examined.  The results were slightly skewed by the relatively small sample size of pitchers who threw on three days rest between 1998 and 2009, but based on that sample size, days off seemed to have little affect on the pitcher’s performances.  So why do we see three days rest so rarely?  Why do managers insist on a five-man rotation?  The best answer seems to be the fear of the unknown.  To date, there is no concrete scientific evidence to support a correlation between lesser performance on short rest than full rest.  There is also no evidence to support an increased risk of injury.  Pitch counts seem to be slightly more correlated to both, but only apply to a given game.  Still, the possibility of injury or reduced performance handcuffs many managers.

Mike Scioscia intends to buck that trend.  At least for a weekend.  That goes to show how important this weekend is.  A three game series between the Angels and the Rangers starts tonight, and the Angels intend to throw three aces at Texas.  Dan Haren is scheduled to start tonight, Ervin Santana tomorrow, and Jered Weaver Sunday.  That’s a pretty formidable run of pitchers, especially considering the slim 2-game lead the Rangers currently hold.  Just how formidable are those three pitchers?

The three pitchers have combined for a 2.72 ERA, 473 strikeouts to only 120 walks, and a combined 14.3 WAR.

In the hitter-friendly, designated hitter filled American League, the Angels have one of the best three man rotations in recent memory.  If the Rangers aren’t careful, they could wake up Monday looking up at the Angels who have suddenly stolen first place right out from under them.

With a season of run-away division and Wild Card races, this weekend’s contest between the Angels and the Rangers shapes up to be the most meaningful series of the year.  So if you can take your mind off Hurricane Irene for a moment, settle in for play-off baseball in August.