Who will Win the Final Spot in the Angels’ Rotation?

By Brian Helberg
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Sep 4, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago (53) pitches in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Underdog – Hector Santiago

Hector Santiago is the only candidate for the fifth rotation slot who spent 2014 as a member of the Angels. The former 30th round pick was acquired from the Chicago White Sox as part of the blockbuster three team trade in December of 2013. Santiago’s jovial personality, and follow back policy on twitter has quickly made him a fan favorite in Anaheim.

The 27-year-old had a very inconsistent first season in an Angels’ uniform, going 6-9, and posting a 3.75 ERA across 127.1 innings. His 4.29 FIP was unimpressive, as was his 2.04 strikeout to walk ratio. Santiago struck out 7.6 hitters per 9 innings, his lowest tally as a full time starting pitcher. His struggles with command are well documented, but he improved slightly this past season, issuing 3.7 walks per 9 innings. Overall, he had trouble keeping the opposition off base, allowing 1.359 walks/hits per inning this past season. He did a reasonably nice job limiting the home run in 2014, giving up 1.1 long balls per 9 innings.

Hector Santiago has out together some pretty solid numbers over the course of 352 career innings in the Major Leagues. The Bloomfield, NJ product has a career record of 14-19, and an ERA of 3.53. Santiago has averaged 8.3 punch outs per 9 innings, and has issued 4.2 free passes per 9 innings during his career. His 3.53 ERA is impressive, but his 4.41 FIP hurts. Santiago has split his time pretty equally between the bullpen and staring rotation during his four year career. He has gone 10-16 with 3.62 ERA over 51 career starts.

FanGraphs projects Hector Santiago will appear in 50 games this season, making 20 starts, going 9-8, and recording a 4.05 ERA. It would a lot of sense for Santiago to transition to the bullpen in 2015, as Cesar Ramos is the lone southpaw down in the Angels’ bullpen. Santiago has had plenty of success working out of the ‘pen, going 4-3, and posting a 3.20 ERA across 57 career appearances. Santiago was a valuable member of the pitching staff for the Angels in 2014 and he should get a look this spring as a starter. However, it will likely be an uphill battle for the 27-year-old lefty to secure the final spot in the Angels’ rotation.

Next: The Dark Horse