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Angelsjunky

Crappy pitching - and why there's reason for optimism in 2020

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Here is a list of all Angels pitchers in 2019 who had a negative fWAR, with their innings pitched. I'll put it in spoilers, because its pretty long.

Spoiler

 

-0.1 Freeman 2.0 IP

-0.1 Stratton 29.1 IP

-0.3 Harvey 59.2 IP

-0.3 Del Pozo 9.1 IP

-0.3 Del Pozo 9.1 IP

-0.4 Tropeano 13. IP

-0.4 Jewell 26.1 IP

-0.5 Peters 72.0 IP

-0.6 Garcia 62.0 IP

-0.6 Allen 23.0 IP

-0.6 Barria 82.2 IP

-0.7 Suarez 81 IP

-0.8 Cahill 102.1 IP

 

 

 

 

That's 572.1 Innings of -5.7 fWAR pitching. 

Now obviously it is unavoidable for even a good team to have some pitchers who produce negative WAR. Even the great Astros had -2.4 from negative fWAR pitchers. But here's the huge difference: those pitchers accounted for 136 IP. 

Meaning, the Angels had about 440 more innings than the Astros from pitchers below replacement level.

That the Angels pitching sucked in 2019 is nothing revelatory to anyone reading this, but I think this is a very important and informative angle on what needs to be done, and also gives us reason for hope for 2020. More on that in a bit.

If you want a team other than the Astros to compare, here are all 10 playoff teams:

Spoiler

 

-0.3 Rays 16.1 IP

-1.0 Twins 92 IP

-1.2 Dodgers 150.1 IP

-1.2 Yankees 138 IP

-1.4 Cardinals 255.2 IP

-2.1 Brewers 219 IP

-2.4 Astros 136 IP

-2.5 Athletics 239.1 IP

-2.8 Braves 258 IP

-2.9 Nationals 185.2 IP

 

That Rays number is particularly striking: they had almost no really bad pitchers.

Anyhow, there's a range there - and the World Series champs are last among the ten, but the big takeaway is that no playoff team had more than 258 innings of negative fWAR pitchers. Thus the Angels had at least twice as many negative fWAR innings as any playoff team, and about twice the fWAR. That illustrates one part of the improvement that needs to happen - the other part being that they have to replace those innings with good pitching, not just mediocre pitching.

How to do this? Well, the obvious solution is free agency - and that will undoubtedly happen. But that's speculative at this point, so let's take a look at in-house solutions.

The two in-house pitchers who should make the biggest difference are Shohei Ohtani and Andrew Heaney. I'm going to add in Griffin Canning and Patrick Sandoval as two other in-house pitchers who could also have signficant impact. Consider their 2019 IP and fWAR:

1.3 Canning 90.1 IP

1.2 Heaney 95.1 IP

0.3 Sandoval 39.1 IP

0.0 Ohtani 0 IP

We don't really know what to expect from Ohtani in 2020, but let's say he's good for about 120 IP at a similar performance level to 2018 (1.0 fWAR in 51.2 IP); I think he's capable of being much better, but we should probably be cautious. Let's also be moderate with the other three, and assume similar performance levels to 2019--even though Canning and Sandoval should improve, as they gain experience--and we get something like this:

2.4 Ohtani 120 IP

2.2 Canning 150 IP

2.0 Heaney 160 IP

0.8 Sandoval 110 IP

So that's +4.6 WAR in 315 IP, just from four in-house pitchers just performing at a level they've already established.

In other words, those four pitchers alone could get the Angels pitching staff back in the realm of respectability. Meaning, not even counting possible free agent acquisitions like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, Cole Hamels, etc.

Now maybe those are optimistic projections, but they're all reasonable. And if, say, Sandoval doesn't pitch 110 innings of mediocre ball, maybe Barria or Suarez does. Regardless, the point is: through likely in-house improvements alone, the Angels pitching staff should at least approach a level of decency. Add in a couple good starters, and we have reason to be optimistic about the 2020 Angels pitching staff.

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I look at it like this:

Ohtani replaces Matt Harvey

Cole replaces Trevor Cahill

Just think about that for a minute. That's like going from a pile of shit on a plate to a Filet Minon. Twice.

The 2nd pitcher replaces the clusterfuck of Barria and Suarez (and Sandoval).

Holy shit, Jonathan.

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Follow-up question: How many pitchers on the Angels this season realistically could or should be expected to regress?

i genuinely can’t think of anyone. The only thing I can think of is Skaggs was okay in he first half of the season. Aside from that, I don’t see anyone who really overperformed what they might be reasonably expected to do in 2020. Maybe Buttrey and Robles?

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Nice job AJ.  I was hoping someone would do the daunting task of parsing this out and you did a great job.  

There's a little bit to make up from Skaggs which is tough but not a crazy amount.  

Not only do a bunch of innings get shifted from our worst pitchers to potentially our best, it's also disproportionate in that it takes additional fatigue innings away from guys in the pen that actually performed well and performances we don't see in that negative column.  

So the impact is even greater than what we realize.  

but for the sake of shit and giggles, give me back 3 WAR just to get back to zero.  Then the players who we add start to accumulate their value.  

So it's basically 3 WAR for doing almost nothing.  They could get two crappy zero ward pitchers and have them throw 300 innings and be 3 WAR better.  

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Three reasons I have for optimism....

1. Ohtani was mostly sought after as a pitcher and drew comps with the best major league pitchers for a reason. We've been dazzled by his bat so far, but most fans, many of us included, may have forgot that Ohtani should probably be an ace in every sense of the term once he's healthy. The Angels will probably go and get another top of the rotation starter in free agency, but Ohtani is the real "get" here.

2. The youth of our pitching. Canning, Barria, Suarez and Sandoval are all major league starters. Two of them were top 100 prospects. One of them managed an ERA of 3.50 in his age 21 season. They all struggled last season. Only Canning and Sandoval showed any glimpses that they could right there ship. These guys have nowhere to go but up at this point, assuming they're healthy.

3. Mickey Calloway. This pitching staff was relying on instruction and guidance from a man that's never pitched in the major leagues, never coached a pitching staff before and was in way over his head. Doug White is a consultant, not a pitching coach. And now he's being replaced by someone that has pitched at the top level, and is regarded as perhaps the top pitching coach in the game. He has managed a big league team before too. So handling a picking staff is right in his wheel house. Calloway may just revolutionize this pitching staff. His instruction can change our four young starters from a group of maybes into legitimate assets. You put those four pitching up to their ability, combined with Ohtani healthy, and some combo along the lines of Cole and Wheeler, and suddenly this staff will not only have upside, but depth to it as well, a combination we haven't seen in a decade.

2020 is going to be very fun.

Edited by Second Base

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57 minutes ago, Sean-Regan said:

Follow-up question: How many pitchers on the Angels this season realistically could or should be expected to regress?

i genuinely can’t think of anyone. The only thing I can think of is Skaggs was okay in he first half of the season. Aside from that, I don’t see anyone who really overperformed what they might be reasonably expected to do in 2020. Maybe Buttrey and Robles?

Yeah, I think that's possible in that at least those two guys don't have a track record of being as good as they were. That said, I think there's a good possibility that the pen could be even better because, as Doc pointed out, it will be less stressed due to better starters.

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I made a similar post in one of the earlier Cole threads. When you look at all the near 0 war innings we had last year it's not difficult to find a 20 war improvement if we add Cole and Wheeler or Strasberg and a third arm. Cole alone should be more valuable than Trout simply considering who he replaces in the rotation. 

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9 minutes ago, Dick B Back said:

Who?

People.

Sid, Mark, Joe, Benny, Nick, Bart, Jim-Bob, Horace, Clark, Jeffery, Harrison, Larry, Karl, Carl, Barney, Mordecai, Biff, Johnny, Fred, Frank, Andy, Demetrius, Mick, Alfonzo, to name a few.

Edited by True Grich

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Angels 2019 WAR

(top 6 in IP) Cahill: -0.3, Pena: .5, Heaney: 1, Canning: 1.2, Barria: -0.7, Suarez: -1 Total: 0.7 WAR

2020 Proposed rotation based on 2019 WAR numbers.

Cole: 7.4, Ohtani (2018): 1.2, Wheeler: 4.1, Heaney: 1, Canning: 1.2, Pena 0.5 Total: 15.4 WAR 

Need I say more?

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22 hours ago, Second Base said:

Three reasons I have for optimism....

1. Ohtani was mostly sought after as a pitcher and drew comps with the best major league pitchers for a reason. We've been dazzled by his bat so far, but most fans, many of us included, may have forgot that Ohtani should probably be an ace in every sense of the term once he's healthy. The Angels will probably go and get another top of the rotation starter in free agency, but Ohtani is the real "get" here.

2. The youth of our pitching. Canning, Barria, Suarez and Sandoval are all major league starters. Two of them were top 100 prospects. One of them managed an ERA of 3.50 in his age 21 season. They all struggled last season. Only Canning and Sandoval showed any glimpses that they could right there ship. These guys have nowhere to go but up at this point, assuming they're healthy.

3. Mickey Calloway. This pitching staff was relying on instruction and guidance from a man that's never pitched in the major leagues, never coached a pitching staff before and was in way over his head. Doug White is a consultant, not a pitching coach. And now he's being replaced by someone that has pitched at the top level, and is regarded as perhaps the top pitching coach in the game. He has managed a big league team before too. So handling a picking staff is right in his wheel house. Calloway may just revolutionize this pitching staff. His instruction can change our four young starters from a group of maybes into legitimate assets. You put those four pitching up to their ability, combined with Ohtani healthy, and some combo along the lines of Cole and Wheeler, and suddenly this staff will not only have upside, but depth to it as well, a combination we haven't seen in a decade.

2020 is going to be very fun.

You nailed this post @Second Base.

Some analysts think Wheeler still has some developing to do and can become an ace. Having Callaway, his manager from last year, could help draw Wheeler to the Angels as well. Maddon and Callaway will really help our young players develop. Free agent pitchers will see that Maddon is managing the Angels and that Callaway is the pitching coach which will be attractive. Not to mention that they can play in So-Cal weather, and oh yeah, Mike Trout.

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3 hours ago, True Grich said:

People.

Sid, Mark, Joe, Benny, Nick, Bart, Jim-Bob, Horace, Clark, Jeffery, Harrison, Larry, Karl, Carl, Barney, Mordecai, Biff, Johnny, Fred, Frank, Andy, Demetrius, Mick, Alfonzo, to name a few.

You forgot Ferd Berfel.

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4 hours ago, True Grich said:

People.

Sid, Mark, Joe, Benny, Nick, Bart, Jim-Bob, Horace, Clark, Jeffery, Harrison, Larry, Karl, Carl, Barney, Mordecai, Biff, Johnny, Fred, Frank, Andy, Demetrius, Mick, Alfonzo, to name a few.

sexist.  

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This is a great point. I'd love for the Angels to get Cole and Wheeler.  You dont need that for a huge improvement, though.  Picking up more scraps would probably be an improvement.  Bringing back Harvey and Cahill would probably be an improvement.  And much cheaper.

Plenty of reason for optimism 

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3 hours ago, ScottT said:

This is a great point. I'd love for the Angels to get Cole and Wheeler.  You dont need that for a huge improvement, though.  Picking up more scraps would probably be an improvement.  Bringing back Harvey and Cahill would probably be an improvement.  And much cheaper.

Plenty of reason for optimism 

heart attack mood GIF

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