The Angels came to Spring Training with the hope of answering questions to their rotation.
The original projection for a 2020 Angels rotation was roughly…
Shohei Ohtani (when he returns healthy)
And a sixth starter among the options of Dillion Peters, Matt Andriese, Jaime Barria, Jose Suarez, or Patrick Sandoval
Griffin Canning’s first start of Spring Training was on Wednesday against the Dodgers, where he pitched two innings with no hits or K’s, and one walk. However, reports surfaced that Canning felt some discomfort after his start and that he was undergoing an MRI.
On Friday the first MRI results came in. The MRI revealed that Canning did not necessarily have a UCL tear, but that he did have soreness in his elbow.
So, what does this mean for Canning and the Angels?
Well, the Angels have had an absurd amount of pitchers getting Tommy John surgery (22 in the last four years). What is particularly troubling about Canning’s condition is that it seems eerily similar to the previous condition of Angel’s pitcher Andrew Heaney, who eventually underwent Tommy John surgery.
Losing at least a full year of Canning would be a huge blow to a newly reconfigured Angels rotation. Last year, Griffin Canning had a 4.58 ERA, 96 K’s and a 1.1 bWAR in 90.1 innings. Despite these seemingly pedestrian numbers, Angels manager Joe Maddon has been high on him, and Canning was the Angels #2 prospect in 2019. He has a plus fastball that’s reached over 95 mph, a solid change-up, and a nasty swing and miss slider.
Theoretically, if Canning is not able to pitch in 2020, the Angels have two holes in their starting rotation. Angels GM Billy Eppler has already mentioned that he’s not looking to make any immediate trades for pitching, despite the current state of Griffin Canning. Which leaves the Angels with a handful of in-house options to find their two rotation starters.
If this is the case, Patrick Sandoval and Matt Andriese would appear to be the favorites for the #4 and #5 spots. Yet, nearly every Angels starter has already shown encouragement in spring training. After Wednesday, Angels starters have not allowed a run, and Andriese and Heaney followed up with four no-run innings (one run unearned) on Thursday and Friday. Although it’s fair to say that the Angels and Maddon already have a healthy evaluation or their starters, no full 2020 Angels rotation has been publicly proposed or defined by the Angels.
Before Angels fans start calling the season off after the news of Griffin Canning: nothing is final or definite. We may still see Canning on the mound in 2020, or we may not see him until 2021. Either way, Eppler and Angels owner Arte Moreno want to win now.
With or possibly without Canning, the Angels will certainly evaluate their starting pitching situation throughout the year.
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