Is the Angels pitching good enough to make it to the postseason? By Ryan Kanne

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have always played second fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers in California and this offseason was no different. Despite rumors that coveted free agent Trevor Bauer could come help the Angels rotation, he decided instead to join the reigning World Series champions and become one of the highest paid pitchers in the league.


While choosing the Dodgers over the Angels was the best move for Bauer, the decision leaves the Angels in a very similar position. After a disappointing 2020 season and a new general manager at the helm, have the Angels done enough without landing big free agents to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2014?


While the Angels missed out on Bauer, they have been addressing their terrible pitching staff from a year ago. New general manager Perry Minasian has look to retool a starting rotation that accumulated a 5.52 ERA, which ranked above only the Detroit Tigers in MLB. Additions like Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb won’t generate too much excitement, but their expectation isn’t to be a star it’s to not be bad.


When comparing the 2020 rotation to the projected 2021 staff, it’s hard to see much of a difference outside of Julio Teheran not being on the team. Cobb and Quintana have been brought in to generate some groundballs. Both have above average groundball rates with Quintana at 42.9 percent and Cobb at an elite 54.4 percent. Both pitchers will be putting a lot of stress on an infield that lost star defender Andrelton Simmons, but If Cobb and Quintana can keep the ball on the ground, we could see a much-improved starting rotation.


Angels 2020 Starters

IP

ERA

K

WHIP

ERA+

Andrew Heaney

66.2

4.46

70

1.230

101

Dylan Bundy

65.2

3.29

72

1.036

137

Griffin Canning

56.1

3.99

56

1.367

113

Patrick Sandoval

36.2

5.65

33

1.336

80

Jaime Barria

32.1

3.62

27

1.113

125

Julio Teheran

31.1

10.05

20

1.755

45


Angels Projected 2021 Starters and Stats (ZiPS)

IP

ERA

K

BB/9

ERA+

Andrew Heaney

146.3

4.00

163

2.3

112

Dylan Bundy

160.0

4.33

172

2.8

104

Griffin Canning

120.0

4.30

124

3.2

104

Jose Quintana

126.7

4.76

118

3.0

92

Alex Cobb

114.3

5.27

80

2.5

84

Shohei Ohtani

64.0

4.12

79

4.5

109



The biggest “X-Factor” for the Angels season is going to be Shohei Ohtani. After missing the end of an already disappointing 2020 season, Ohtani looks to rebound both at the plate and on the mound. While his impact will be mitigated by trying to once again use him as a true two- way player, Ohtani should at least be able to contribute to the lineup. While the projections are a good sign to see, we’ll have to wait until the season to see how Ohtani performs.


If the rotation was a worry for Angels fans, they should avert their eyes from the bullpen. The Halo’s relievers already struggled with the tenth worst bullpen ERA in 2020. After releasing their best reliever, Cam Bedrosian, the club was able to make moves for veteran Raisel Iglesias and Alex Claudio.


While Iglesias could be a huge upgrade with his career 3.15 ERA, Claudio is more of a gamble. The 28-year-old had his best years with the Texas Rangers with four straight seasons of a sub- 3.00 ERA. Since then, he’s never been below a 4.00 ERA. Claudio can still be a very effective pitcher with his infamous changeup that reaches low 70 MPH. 


Beyond the two new additions, the Angels bullpen looks about the same. They could still bring back Bedrosian who is still a free agent, but rumors have circulated around other veterans like Trevor Rosenthal. What the Angels could really use are improvements from a guy like Ty Buttrey. 


Buttrey had high hopes in 2020 after a good start to his career, but a 5.81 ERA across 26.1 innings will wipe the optimism around you away. ZiPS projects a comeback in this young career with a 3.69 ERA and a 122 ERA+ across 70 innings. If the Angels get the best versions of Buttrey, Iglesias, and Claudio we could be seeing playoff baseball in Anaheim.


Overall, the pitching staff is going to the Angels weakness. With a lineup that still features Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, and David Fletcher, the Angels shouldn’t have to worry about scoring runs. Another season of finding budget starting rotation options might finally work out for the Angels but only time will tell. 



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