That stench you smelled across the country after Ervin Santana finished his no-hitter was the the collective group of would-be MLB contenders soiling their pants at the thought of having to face this Angels rotation at some point in the post-season.
Already armed with arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, Jered Weaver, and the most underrated but almost as dominant ace in baseball, Dan Haren, the Halos were already formidable foes in a best-of-five series, but now add Ervin Santana at the top of his game to those two and the Angels should be striking bowel-evacuating fear into the hearts of any opposing team that dare stand in their way.
As we saw with the Giants last year, a team with similar offensive concerns to the Angels, if you have strong pitching and your underwhelming lineup can heat up at the right time, you can go a long, long way in the playoffs. That is a mold the Halos have been looking to fill all season long, but they didn't fit in perfectly until Santana's very public emergence as a force to be reckoned with. It wasn't like folks didn't know about Ervin Santana beforehand, after all, he is a former All-Star. But they haven't seen much of that All-Star caliber Santana since 2008. Nagging arm problems have robbed him of some of his fastball's velocity and some of his wicked slider's bite, which led to his abysmal 2009 campaign and his pedestrian (outside of his win total) 2010 season.
What many haven't noticed is that in 2011, Santana is creeping closer and closer to replicating the magic he had in 2008. His 1.16 WHIP is his second-best mark to date, his K/9 and BB/9 rates are both his best since 2008 and improvements over his career rates. Better yet, his 3.47 ERA is right on par with his xFIP of 3.58, suggesting that he isn't just getting by on strokes of luck. No, as we alll saw in his brilliant performance yesterday, that once dominant stuff he possessed in his early career is still very much alive and kicking in his right arm, even if it doesn't show up quite as often and that is why AL contenders should be crossing their fingers that they don't draw the Angels in the playoffs.