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OC Register: 2019 Angels spring training preview: Starting rotation


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As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 13, we are providing breakdowns of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today, the starting rotation:

2018 RECAP

The Angels began the season with a six-man rotation, although more precisely it was a five-man rotation with a sixth starter added occasionally. By the end, they could barely piece together any kind of rotation at all. There wasn’t a single starter who remained on the active roster all season. Andrew Heaney came the closest, missing just the first couple weeks. Heaney managed 180 innings with a 4.15 ERA. Tyler Skaggs was having an All-Star-caliber first half, but then his second half was spoiled when he tried to pitch through a groin injury, and he finished with a 4.02 ERA. Jaime Barría and Felix Peña also emerged as competent major league starters. The Angels were getting solid seasons out of Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards before both eventually needed Tommy John surgery. Despite all of the injuries and turnover, the Angels managed a 4.34 ERA out of the rotation, which was seventh in the league. Their starters pitched just 805-1/3 innings, which was second-worst in the league. They were ahead of only the Tampa Bay Rays, who often used relievers as “openers.”

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Although the Angels would seemingly have been desperate to add some certainty to their rotation with durable starters, they instead added two who carry with them some health question marks. Matt Harvey (free agent) has been injured and/or ineffective for much of the past three years, but he was mostly healthy last year and the Angels saw signs of improved stuff throughout the season, so they took a chance on a one-year deal. Trevor Cahill (free agent) suffered three separate injuries in 2018, but only one was to the arm and that cost him just 10 days. Those two go into the mix with Heaney, Skaggs and Barría to form the likely starting five, barring injury of course. The Angels are also expected to strategically use a sixth starter from time to time, particularly in stretches with no off days.

THE NEXT LAYER

The group from which the Angels can pull extra starters is better than it has been in recent seasons. Peña showed he was capable of being a big league starter at the end of last season. Nick Tropeano has had stints of solid work before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Angels added Dillon Peters (trade from Marlins) and they re-signed Alex Meyer to a minor league deal, after Meyer had missed nearly a season and a half with a shoulder injury. Nate Smith, one of the Angels’ top pitching prospects before his own shoulder injury, is also healthy again. Behind them are the Angels’ best two pitching prospects, Griffin Canning and Jesus Suarez. Both are expected to pitch in the big leagues sometime this season. They will likely start at Triple-A.

MOVES THEY COULD MAKE

There are still a few starters left on the market, most notably Dallas Keuchel. The Angels have talked with Keuchel’s agent this winter, although they likely didn’t get too far. As the start of spring training gets closer, if Keuchel’s price drops, perhaps the Angels jump back in. The Angels could also go for free agent Gio Gonzalez, one of baseball’s most durable starters in recent years. Finally, the Yankees still haven’t traded Sonny Gray, who many observers figure could be due for a bounce-back season if he gets out of Yankee Stadium.

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I see the Angels starters in the following tiered categories:

Starting Five: Skaggs, Heaney, Harvey, Cahill, Barria

Next Five (Depth that is ready): F Pena, Tropeano, Bridwell, Peters, Meyer.

A Further Five (On the Cusp Prospects who should be available sometime in 2019): Smith, Suarez, Canning, L Pena, Sandoval.

Long-term Prospects (2020 or beyond): Madero, Soriano, C Rodriguez, Hernandez, Bradish, Swanda, Aquino, etc.

Fringe Prospects: Castillo, Gatto, Mathews, Beasley, J Rodriguez, Alexander, Ortega, Rivera, etc.

 

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13 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

I see the Angels starters in the following tiered categories:

Starting Five: Skaggs, Heaney, Harvey, Cahill, Barria

Next Five (Depth that is ready): F Pena, Tropeano, Bridwell, Peters, Meyer.

A Further Five (On the Cusp Prospects who should be available sometime in 2019): Smith, Suarez, Canning, L Pena, Sandoval.

Long-term Prospects (2020 or beyond): Madero, Soriano, C Rodriguez, Hernandez, Bradish, Swanda, Aquino, etc.

Fringe Prospects: Castillo, Gatto, Mathews, Beasley, J Rodriguez, Alexander, Ortega, Rivera, etc.

 

this is pretty much spot on although it wouldn't surprise me to see them convert Meyer and L Pena to relief.  Maybe even a couple others out of that fringe prospect group like Gatto. 

Ortega is a nice sleeper.  

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29 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

I see the Angels starters in the following tiered categories:

Starting Five: Skaggs, Heaney, Harvey, Cahill, Barria

Next Five (Depth that is ready): F Pena, Tropeano, Bridwell, Peters, Meyer.

A Further Five (On the Cusp Prospects who should be available sometime in 2019): Smith, Suarez, Canning, L Pena, Sandoval.

Long-term Prospects (2020 or beyond): Madero, Soriano, C Rodriguez, Hernandez, Bradish, Swanda, Aquino, etc.

Fringe Prospects: Castillo, Gatto, Mathews, Beasley, J Rodriguez, Alexander, Ortega, Rivera, etc.

 

I want to think the majority of long term prospects and beyond are people that we either trade or never ever see. My list would stop at Smith, Suarez, Canning, Pena, and Sandoval 

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54 minutes ago, Dochalo said:

ha!!

I'm combining a no carb diet with this off season.  

I'M STARVING!!!!

That and everything you do get it eat is basically cold leftovers, because the hot stove was extinguished and no one has bothered to light it back up again

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1 hour ago, Dochalo said:

nice article @Jeff Fletcher

fyi, it's Jose Suarez and not Jesus.  

My biggest concern as the team is right now surrounds the starting staff.  There's a ton of volatility and we've got a young bullpen as well which is largely untested.  There is potential for both greatness and disaster.  

Well, given the depth I pointed out in my post above, "disaster" is unlikely. But given the relative lack of high upside pitchers in the first three tiers, "greatness" is very unlikely and "mediocrity" a distinct possibility. But the worst-case scenario is that there's a lot of injuries and none of the dice-rolls come up lucky, but the Angels still hang in with a rotation of solid #4-5 types.

1 hour ago, angelsnationtalk said:

I want to think the majority of long term prospects and beyond are people that we either trade or never ever see. My list would stop at Smith, Suarez, Canning, Pena, and Sandoval 

That's why I have tiers, but they're worth mentioning because one or two of those long-term guys could have a major breakthrough and be on the radar in the second half (my vote is on Madero), and maybe one of those fringe guys becomes a solid back-end filler type (my vote is on Beasley).

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7 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Well, given the depth I pointed out in my post above, "disaster" is unlikely. But given the relative lack of high upside pitchers in the first three tiers, "greatness" is very unlikely and "mediocrity" a distinct possibility. But the worst-case scenario is that there's a lot of injuries and none of the dice-rolls come up lucky, but the Angels still hang in with a rotation of solid #4-5 types.

That's why I have tiers, but they're worth mentioning because one or two of those long-term guys could have a major breakthrough and be on the radar in the second half (my vote is on Madero), and maybe one of those fringe guys becomes a solid back-end filler type (my vote is on Beasley).

Madero is probably the best bet at this point considering you're putting your money alongside the Angels.  

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