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The 2019 Rotation


Angelsjunky

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As we're all well aware, this season the Angels lost their two best starters to Tommy John surgery (or at least, probably in Ohtani's case). But there have also been some positive developments: Heaney and Skaggs have been mostly healthy, Jaime Barria has emerged as a solid mid-rotation starter, Felix Pena has won the 2018 Parker Bridwell Award (guy who came out of nowhere to pitcher pretty well). Oh yeah, Matt Shoemaker is finally healthy and dealing again.

So what about 2019? Here are the pieces the Angels have to work with:

Above average to very good mid-rotation types: Skaggs, Heaney, Shoemaker, Barria

Back-end rotation types: F Pena, Tropeano, Bridwell, McGuire, Cole

Coming back from injury at some point: Meyer, JC Ramirez, Lamb

Minor league depth that could be major league ready sometime in 2019: Canning, Suarez, L Pena, Gatto, Sandoval, Beasley

 

Now I don't know what GMs have in mind when assembling a rotation in terms of how deep they want it to go. But I think it is safe to say that one thing the Angels have in 2019 is depth - that is, quantity of guys who can pitch major league innings without utterly embarassing themselves. The above list includes 18 pitchers; even if we shave off a bunch, the Angels have at least a dozen guys right now who could safely start major league games next year, maybe more. And this doesn't count Rule 5 gains (or losses), free agency signings (major or minor leagues), and trades.

What they lack is quality. I like the top four starters listed above; all four should be solid #3 types, and all four have shown flashes of potential #2 levels. But there are two problems: one, each of the four has some degree of uncertainty attached to their name. While Skaggs has pitched more innings in 2018 than in any previous year (although at 116.2 so far, that's not saying much), he's still struggled with some nagging injuries and spent some time on the DL; Heaney has looked like Dan Haren in one start, and a total scrub in the next; Barria is very young and looks good, but regression is possible; and finally Shoe has missed most of the last two years and was never all that consistent.

Secondly, without Ohtani and Richards, the Angels don't have a true "ace." They don't have that guy who can match up against the true aces of the league: the Sales, King Felixes, and Severinos of the world. OK, not all teams do. A team could go all the way with five solid #2-3 types (look at the 2002 Angels, whose best pitcher was a #3 caliber Jarrod Washburn having a #2-esque career season).

That said, if Heaney, Skaggs, Shoe, and Barria are all healthy in 2019 and pitch to their potential, no matter who the Angels trot out their every fifth day, the rotation will be pretty good.

And they have a ton of options for that 5th (and occasionally 6th) rotation spot. You could do worse than Pena, Bridwell, or Tropeano for your 5th starter. Taylor Cole might be better suited as a reliever but is a bit of a sleeper candidate to be a very valuable pitcher. 

In the "coming back from injury category," you have three intriguing pitchers. Alex Meyer has as good stuff as anyone on the team--except for Ohtani, of course, and Richards, if you still count him. I personally think he should be converted to the bullpen where he could be a truly elite reliever, but he is a talented pitcher. Ramirez is similar, but on a lower octave. Where Meyer flashes #2 potential but is more likely to be a #3-4 due to control issues, JC flashes #3 potential and is more likely to be a #4-5. Lamb is yet another octave down; he looked great in AAA, but struggled in the his brief stint in the majors. But he could be similar to Ramirez. But we don't know when these guys are comig back, or how they'll pitch when they come back.

Finally we get to the high minor leagues. Canning and Suarez are probably ready to be #4-5 starters now, but both have at least #3 potential. I would put Patrick Sandoval in a similar category, but half a year or a year behind those two. All three will almost certainly be major league starting pitchers. 

Then you have Luis Pena, Joe Gatto, and Jeremy Beasley - guys that will probably reach the majors, but might not have the total package to be starters. But they're on the radar. I suppose we could add in guys like Simon Mathews, Jesus Castillo, Jose Rodriguez, Ivan Pineyro, and Jason Alexander - but they all look like minor league journeymen to me. If they start major league games for the Angels in 2019, something seriously went wrong.

You also have pitchers like Luis Madero, Chris Rodriguez, Jose Soriano, and then Jerryl Rivera, Kyle Bradish, Aaron Hernandez, etc, all very young with good upside, but won't sniff the majors until 2020 or later. 

So where does that leave us? Well, the Angels already have four of their five rotation spots set. They then have a pool of up to 14 pitchers who could fill in as the 5th starter or in case of injury. Most of the 14 are adequate #5 starters, some are potential #3-4s, and a few could be as good as #2s.

If the Angels are going to add starting pitching this offseason, they will likely do it for one or both of two reasons:

1) To get a higher caliber starter, someone to anchor the rotation and be at least a #2 type. The only free agent that clearly fits this category is ex-Angel farmhand Patrick Corbin. The problem there, of course, is that because Corbin is the only #1-2 type free agent, his services will be in high demand. Charlie Morton might fit this category but he allegedly will retire if the Astros don't re-sign him. 

2) To get a more reliable mid-rotation type, to add to the starting four. There are several options, although none scream "we've gotta have this guy!" Nathan Eovaldi, Lance Lynn, Derek Holland, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Hellickson, etc.

In other words, the Angels either target a guy who is as good or better than anyone (other than Ohtani) that they currently have, which is essentially only Corbin (among free agents), and/or they go after a guy similarly as good as their starting four, but presumably more dependable.

Knowing Eppler, he may bypass free agency altogether for starting pitching and instead work a trade or two, maybe going after pitchers with good upside but question marks to add to the "Alex Meyer Bin." Someone mentioned Dylan Bundy, he of the nice peripherals but 35 HR in 26 starts.

Anyhow, no clear answers - just exploring the situation and possibilities. 

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Bundy does pitch something like 3/4 of the time in band boxes (81 home games, close to 40 road games against AL East teams).   That could skew a lot of pitchers' HRs allowed. 

Put him half of the time in Angel Stadium plus somewhat easier to pitch in AL West stadiums, and also take him out of a drastically losing situation, and he could suddenly take a next step forward.   

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I think we'll probably make a trade for a starting pitcher, such as Bundy or maybe Grey, rather than going after someone in free agency. 

I think the wise decision would be not to spend big dollar on either Corban or Kecheul, but rather save that money and use it on next year's free agency when there will be multiple number 1s available.

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Something else to keep an eye on next year is that we don't need to make a big splash in free agencies for a pitcher. If the Giants are out of the Race Bumgarner could be available. The same can be consider with the Mets, Degrom, Wheeler and Thor could each be available.

I also think our system is good enough where we can trade for one of these guys without hurting the system. Bumgarner and Wheeler may not cost the same price that Sales costed since they only  have one year of control left. 

 

Now the question that needs to be asked, if we have deal In place for Bundy/ Grey for a few prospects do we make that deal?

I would say it's depends on the prospects, if the asking price is steep I'll hold the prospects and go after one of the big three able in trades.

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Above average to very good mid-rotation types: Skaggs- ?, Heaney- ?, Shoemaker- ?, Barria

Back-end rotation types: F Pena -?, Tropeano, Bridwell-?, McGuire, Cole

Coming back from injury at some point: Meyer, JC Ramirez, Lamb

Minor league depth that could be major league ready sometime in 2019: Canning- ?, Suarez- ?, L Pena- ?, Gatto- ?, Sandoval- ?, Beasley- ?

Fixed~

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AJ, I feel you're under rating Canning. It's understandable because Salt Lake wasn't kind to him, but he's a legit front of the rotation starter. Fastball sits 94-98 with movement, he hides the ball, locates decently, curve, slider and change are all plus pitches when he's locating. They're borderline plus even when he isn't. 

You put him in Salt Lake and the breaking balls start floating in the altitude, and he already provides the velocity for the ball to travel. 

Griffin Canning may be the Angels best starting pitcher right now, with Ohtani on the shelf.

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Angel fans: "We need to stop picking up reclamation projects and guys with injuries and go after someone we can rely on"

Angel fans: "Lets get Dylan Bundy!"

Dylan Bundy has had two elbow issues including TJS.  He's had at least three shoulder issues that required shutting him including calcification of the shoulder.   He's seen his velocity drop in each of the last two seasons and his FB has gone from having been his best pitch to his worst pitch (-13.1 pitch value this season).

Basically -- Dylan Bundy is exactly the type of pitcher the Angels have been chasing after the last few seasons only with a larger track record.  Unfortunately for him, it's a track record that has seen him get worse.  

He's got value because of years of control, but the mythology of what Dylan Bundy was going to be is likely going to artificially raise the demands for him.  People still think of him as if he's the 18 year old with the 100 MPH FB.  That''s not who he is anymore.  He's a soon to be 26 year old now that sits 91/92 with a Fly Ball rate nearing 70% in the age of launch angle.

Bundy as an accent piece -- sure.  But he's a buyer beware guy.

Edited by Inside Pitch
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13 hours ago, Scotty@AW said:

AJ, I feel you're under rating Canning. It's understandable because Salt Lake wasn't kind to him, but he's a legit front of the rotation starter. Fastball sits 94-98 with movement, he hides the ball, locates decently, curve, slider and change are all plus pitches when he's locating. They're borderline plus even when he isn't. 

You put him in Salt Lake and the breaking balls start floating in the altitude, and he already provides the velocity for the ball to travel. 

Griffin Canning may be the Angels best starting pitcher right now, with Ohtani on the shelf.

I’m deliberately being cautious so as to avoid disappointment. I do think he can be a strong #2 in the peak Dan Haren mold, but am expecting #3.

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3 minutes ago, HaloNArizona said:

Next year, I would like us to pursue Corbin.  I think he can fill in nicely at the top of the rotation.  By the ASB, I see Canning coming up in the rotation and displacing someone, like Shoe or Skaggs, which we have moved for a piece that we have struggled to fill.

 

I can see Dipoto going after Corbin too lol

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19 hours ago, Vlad27Trout27 said:

Something else to keep an eye on next year is that we don't need to make a big splash in free agencies for a pitcher. If the Giants are out of the Race Bumgarner could be available. The same can be consider with the Mets, Degrom, Wheeler and Thor could each be available.

I also think our system is good enough where we can trade for one of these guys without hurting the system. Bumgarner and Wheeler may not cost the same price that Sales costed since they only  have one year of control left. 

 

Now the question that needs to be asked, if we have deal In place for Bundy/ Grey for a few prospects do we make that deal?

I would say it's depends on the prospects, if the asking price is steep I'll hold the prospects and go after one of the big three able in trades.

After trading Segura for two months of Grienke, I'd rather not trade for any more big name rentals.   There's no guarantee that they will re-sign with the Halos.

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5 hours ago, Inside Pitch said:

Angel fans: "We need to stop picking up reclamation projects and guys with injuries and go after someone we can rely on"

Angel fans: "Lets get Dylan Bundy!"

Dylan Bundy has had two elbow issues including TJS.  He's had at least three shoulder issues that required shutting him including calcification of the shoulder.   He's seen his velocity drop in each of the last two seasons and his FB has gone from having been his best pitch to his worst pitch (-13.1 pitch value this season).

Basically -- Dylan Bundy is exactly the type of pitcher the Angels have been chasing after the last few seasons only with a larger track record.  Unfortunately for him, it's a track record that has seen him get worse.  

He's got value because of years of control, by the mythology of what Dylan Bundy was going to be is likely going to artificially raise the demands for him.  People still think of him as if he's the 18 year old with the 100 MPH FB.  That''s not who he is anymore.  He's a soon to be 26 year old now that sits 91/92 with a FB rate nearing 70% in the age of launch angle.

Bundy as an accent piece -- sure.  But he's a buyer beware guy.

Okay, I didn't know about the shoulder issues, which can be even worse long term than elbow issues.    Very cautious towards Bundy now, as we already have one starter (Seth Rollins) and one maybe (Meyer) who have had shoulder issues.

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26 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

Okay, I didn't know about the shoulder issues, which can be even worse long term than elbow issues.    Very cautious towards Bundy now, as we already have one starter (Seth Rollins) and one maybe (Meyer) who have had shoulder issues.

Wasnt aimed at you or ANYONE on this site -- it's actually being said all over the place...    Dylan Bundy is one of those guys who's past status has made him stand out at a guy to get, I don't think people are aware how far down his FB has come, or that he's had issues beyond the TJS .  

Heck the only reason I knew is because I was thinking the same thing a few months ago and went looking for pitch information to see if he was a possible buy low guy ...    Right now he's a red flag guy.

Edited by Inside Pitch
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1 hour ago, Inside Pitch said:

Wasnt aimed at you or ANYONE on this site -- it's actually being said all over the place...    Dylan Bundy is one of those guys who's past status has made him stand out at a guy to get, I don't think people are aware how far down his FB has come, or that he's had issues beyond the TJS .  

Heck the only reason I knew is because I was thinking the same thing a few months ago and went looking for pitch information to see if he was a possible buy low guy ...    Right now he's a red flag guy.

No prob, and thanks for the heads up.

At this point, it's almost seeming like Billy should stick to the "adding depth to the rotation" strategy, given how many pitchers are getting hurt nowadays.   It seems preferable, especially now, to develop their own starters, as they will know their physical attributes, health, and tendencies best.

They already have Ohtani (2020), Skaggs, Shoe, Heaney, Barria, Pena, Canning, Suarez, Sandoval, Bridwell, and the newest acquisition Luke Farrell, plus the other starters on the farm. 

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