The Angels face a short-term question and a long-term question with Joe Blanton.
The short-term question: Does he make his next scheduled start? On the day after Blanton failed to complete six innings for the fourth consecutive start, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia refused to commit to another one.
"Joe has put every effort into trying to be the pitcher he can be," Scioscia said. "Right now, it's very clear he is struggling with some of the basic things he needs to do to be that pitcher."
Blanton, 32, is 2-13 with a 5.66 earned-run average. He leads the major leagues in losses. No major league pitcher had given up more hits, runs or home runs.
Blanton has given up home runs in 10 consecutive starts, tying the franchise record shared by Don Sutton, Jarrod Washburn and Dan Haren.
The long-term question: Can the Angels count on Blanton next season? They have guaranteed him $7.5 million, but can they really go into spring training with him as one of their five starters?
General Manager Jerry Dipoto declined to address the question directly.
"We’re constantly evolving in how we look at things and what we do," Dipoto said. "Joe is having a very difficult season, a difficult three-week stretch. There have been times he’s pitched effectively and it hasn’t shown in the won-loss column. There have been times where he hasn’t pitched effectively, like now. We’re trying to get through an extended down period.
"How we do that … those are discussions we have on every player, every position, how we can improve."