With Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani in an Angels uniform, the Halos will now employ the long debated ‘six man rotation’. While most teams have stuck with 5, this change will allow Ohtani to have more rest and also play a role offensively. You may be wondering who the Angels have and what the competition should shape out to be, so let’s examine what their starting pitching has to offer, in the different tiers.
RHP Garrett Richards
Richards just needs to be healthy. In the last two seasons, the righty flamethrower sported a 2.28 and 2.34 ERA in 2017 and 2016, but only started 6 games per season. He has the stuff, and has finally harnessed his control to an extent. Now considered a veteran, “G-Rich” will have to establish himself as a reliable starter as he nears free agency, so this season could be the most important one for him.
RHP Shohei Ohtani
I’ve already said what’s needed to be said with Ohtani. He has electric stuff and a good bat, so my expectations are high. With that being said, it’s important to temper innings expectations, as he’s transitioning from a very different Japan league. He could start the season as the #2, but surely has ace potential. In his first Spring Training start, he struggled with command, but showed good stuff, striking out 2 batters in his 1 ⅓ innings of work. He could be a work in progress, but the returns have the potential to be massive, taking the rotation to the next level.
LHP Tyler Skaggs
Like Richards, health and consistency is critical to Skaggs success. Skaggs is perhaps one of the more promising pitchers of the bunch, but posted a mediocre 4.55 ERA in 2017. He has good stuff, but has to harness his control and speed up his delivery to eliminate base runners. Expect Skaggs to land 3rd in the pecking order, but a strong ST could push him up.
Nearly a Lock:
RHP Matt Shoemaker
“Shoe,” despite being a rarely-known pitcher a few years ago, has proven himself on the big league stage. Unlike Heaney, Tropeano, and Skaggs, he has not gotten Tommy John surgery, but has had some big injuries in the past. The most vivid memory is from September 4, 2016, when a line drive struck Shoemaker at 105 mph. He also had his 2017 season cut short and finished with 14 starts and a mediocre 4.52 ERA. Luckily, he’s recovered, and still should be a stable middle-to-back of the rotation starter for the Angels, especially if he can be closer to his career 3.87 ERA.
LHP Andrew Heaney
Once a first round pick by the Miami Marlins, Heaney certainly has the potential for greatness. But the question is: will he bounce back from injury or struggle? In 2016, Heaney was named the Halos #2 starter, but in just his second start of the year, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. His 2017 campaign, shortened by the surgery, he posted a brutal 7.06 ERA…in 5 starts. That sample size was far too little, but if he continues this trend, we could see someone emerge and take his spot.
6th Spot Competition:
RHP Parker Bridwell
Is Bridwell legit? I wrote an article on ‘Brid’ a couple months back, because his breakout was one of the most unexpected last season. He pitched to a tune of a 3.64 ERA, despite putting up a 13.50 ERA last season before being DFAd. Metrics and projections are harsh on the right hander though. ZiPS predicts a 5.30 ERA for Bridwell in 2018, along with a 6-9 record. Steamer is less negative, but still poor, projecting a 5.04 ERA in only 56 innings. His 4.84 FIP last season spells a possible downfall. Expectations are not high, but he could stick in the bigs as a solid but not dominant arm. If Brid can do anything, it’s defying expectations.
RHP J.C. Ramirez
J.C. was another pleasant surprise last season, coming over in waivers from the Reds. He had a solid, albeit unspectacular, return in 2017, with a 4.15 ERA. What he does a great job of is remaining consistent. Like Shoemaker, he can be relied on for decency on any given night. While I projected him as a swingman, he could fit as the 6 in this rotation, giving them more consistency.
RHP Nick Tropeano
Tropeano, another victim of Tommy John, also has much to prove. Acquired along with Carlos Perez in 2014 for Hank Conger from Houston, Tropeano made the most of his opportunities. He posted a fairly pedestrian 3.82 ERA in 8 starts, followed by a 3.25 ERA in 2016, the best on the team at that time. Unfortunately, like so many others, injury hit. Now, after 18 months of recovery, he’ll be back on the mound looking to defeat breakouts Parker Bridwell and J.C. Ramirez for the final slot.
While the Angel’s rotation looks OK, that’s all they need. With a top-notch offense and impressive run prevention, they just need healthy bodies to fill the spot and eat innings. Ohtani and Richards could be big factors, even if they are in completely different situations. Now, we just have to hope.
Any Angels questions? Ask me at @noahlyons01, and follow @sixmanrotation on Twitter and Instagram!