As if Halos fans need any more ammunition to fire at Angels General Manager Billy Eppler for not signing a top of the line free agent starting pitcher, they just got even more arsenal to add to their collection. After just under four weeks of spring training, the report card on the starting pitching isn’t good.
With Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez still free agents, Angels fans are clamoring for the front office to make a move on either one of them. It’s been five years since the Angels were in the playoffs and they’re afraid Trout will leave if they fail again. So, let’s get an objective look at how the starting pitching candidates have performed this spring thus far:
Health Concerns from the Top Starters
Tyler Skaggs was scratched from his scheduled start last Sunday after what he said was fatigue in his arm from overdoing it in a bullpen session as he experimented with a new pitch, which he wouldn’t identify. Brad Ausmus was so concerned that he had an MRI done on his arm, which came back clean thankfully.
Tyler is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game today, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports. With Skaggs reporting no complications with his sore left forearm during Wednesday’s bullpen session, he’ll take a day off before testing himself against hitters. If he can avoid any minor-league outing free of any setbacks, Skaggs’ next appearance would likely come in the Cactus League at some point during the upcoming week. Although the lefty remains on track to avoid the injured list and could even be in the mix for the Angels’ Opening Day starting assignment, he hasn’t had much work in Tempe up to this point. He pitched 1.2 innings against the Texas Rangers on March 1 and 3 innings against the Chicago Cubs on March 6. In 4.2 innings, he’s given up six hits, six runs (five earned), three walks, eight strikeouts, and two home runs. His ERA is 9.64 in limited innings.
Even more concerning is Andrew Heaney. He has been shut down due to ongoing discomfort due to inflammation in his left elbow. Since Heaney had Tommy John surgery and a rash of other minor arm injuries, the Angels have to be extra cautious that their ace is healthy before the season begins. At this point, it’s not serious as an MRI was performed and no structural damage was found. But the Angels are still two weeks away from Opening Day and Heaney has thrown a total of 1 2/3 innings this spring with no assurance that he’ll be ready for the beginning of the season.
Make sure you don’t gloss over this important stat: the Angels top two pitchers have thrown a total of 6 1/3 innings this spring. Yikes.
Free Agent Signees Have Disappointed
Trevor Cahill has yet to pitch a game with any ease whatsoever. In his first game against the Colorado Rockies, ironically, he got rocked. He pitched one inning, gave up two hits, three walks, and five runs. On March 5 against the Chicago White Sox, he pitched marginally better by going 3 2/3 innings and giving up two runs. He took the loss on March 10 against the Milwaukee Brewers by going 3 1/3 innings and giving up two runs (both via the home run). He has pitched a total of 8 innings and has a 10.13 ERA.
Matt Harvey looked good in his first game on March 7 against the Rockies by going 3 innings and giving up only one run and he seemed confident that he was just getting warmed up. However, that optimism quickly dissipated five days later against the Texas Rangers’ split squad team. He pitched 1 1/3 innings gave up five hits, four earned runs, one walk, and had one strikeout. He wasn’t fooling anybody in that game and in only 4.1 total innings this spring, he has a 10.38 ERA.
Starters Battling for the #5 Position Have Been Hit and Miss
Felix Peña started off hot by throwing 3 scoreless innings against the Brewers on February 26. He backed that up by firing 2 2/3 scoreless innings on March 3 against the Cincinnati Reds. However he cooled off in his last two starts. Against the Dodgers on March 8, Peña gave up two runs in three innings, but did strike out four batters. On March 14 against the San Diego Padres, he pitched 2 2/3 giving up three hits, two runs, and two walks. Overall he has thrown 11 1/3 innings and struck out 16 batters, while having a 3.18 ERA.
The Angels have had the most trust in Jaime Barria as he has gone the most innings among all of the Halos starters (12.2 total innings) and has thrown at least three innings in all four of his starts. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare too well in his last start as he went 4 2/3 innings, gave up seven hits, four earned runs, one walk, and struck out five batters. His spring ERA is 4.97 and he has given up a lot of home runs (4).
Not Ready Just Yet
Griffin Canning, the Angels #1 pitching prospect has made a few appearances and started off with a scoreless inning against the Rockies on February 27. Since then, he hasn’t done so well. On March 5, he pitched 1 1/3 innings gave up three hits, three earned runs, one walk, one home run, and had one strikeout. On March 10 against the Cubs, Canning wasn’t much better as he pitched 1 2.3 innings, gave up two hits, three earned runs, four walks, and had one strikeout. In only four innings, he has a 13.50 ERA.
The other Angels hot pitching prospect Jose Suarez has had only one inning of work, but it was a scoreless one.
A Pleasant Surprise Who is Trying to Sneak Into the Rotation
Three months ago, the Angels sent Tyler Stevens, a 2017 draft pick out of the University of New Mexico, for Marlins 2014 draftee Dillon Peters. Peters has had success in the minors, but that hasn’t translated to the majors just yet as he has had a 6+ ERA in 59 IP through two MLB seasons. However, this spring he has been almost lights out. He has pitched 10 innings, given up eight hits, two runs (one earned), and two walks, has had five strikeouts, and hasn’t allowed a home run. That adds up to a 0.90 ERA. Maybe the Angels should consider him to be in the rotation especially if Andrew Heaney takes awhile to come back.
The starting pitching has been a huge disappointment so far this spring. This is because the Angels were expecting Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs to be healthy and to kick it up a notch this year. And if they can’t get innings out of their two two guys, they will once again exhaust their bullpen causing the Angels to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight year.
Let’s hope that by the time May comes around, Shohei Ohtani comes back healthy and the Halos won’t be talking about which starter (or two) is on the disabled list by then.
Featured Image: Andrew Heaney/Bleacher Repor