Grading the 2015 LA Angels’ Starting Pitchers
The LA Angels’ starting rotation was very impressive at points in the 2015 regular season, less impressive during others.
While they excelled in some statistical categories like walks (second in AL) and batting average allowed (third in AL), they fell at about league average in the vast majority of the standard statistical categories and their combined WAR of 8.4 was good for just 13th in the AL.
To get a better idea of what worked and what didn’t, let’s examine and grade each of the prominent members of the 2015 Angel rotation.
Garrett Richards: B-
After a breakout 2014 season in which he seemed to establish himself as the Angels’ ace of the future, Richards regressed recovering from injury in 2015. Richard’s ERA increased a full point to 3.65 in 2015 and allowed 20 home runs in 2015, compared to just 5 in 2014. His K/9 decreased from 8.75 to 7.64 in 2015, while his BB/9 increased from 2.72 to 3.30. His WAR decreased from 4.3 in 2014 to 2.5 in 2015 despite throwing nearly 40 fewer innings. Richards was still the best starter in the 2015 rotation, but he wasn’t nearly the Cy Young contender that many expected him to be. If the Halos plan on contending in 2016, they’ll need Richards to return to the ace-like form we’ve seen from him in the past.
Andrew Heaney: A-
The lefty broke out in his first season with the Angels. Called up in June, Heaney’s first ten starts were exceptional. He went 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA during those, but struggled towards the end of the season. His final eight starts produced just one win and an ERA of 5.06. Still, his final ERA stood at 3.49, the best of the starters. He struck out 78, walked 28, and owned a 1.20 WHIP in 105 innings pitched. The Angels couldn’t have asked for much more out of Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for just one year of Howie Kendrick. Overall, he was very impressive in his time in the Angels’ rotation. Expect the young lefty to continue to impress in his first full Major League season in 2016.
Jered Weaver: D
Weaver struggled in his tenth Major League season. His 4.64 ERA was a career high and struck out just 90 batters in 159 innings. Only knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s average fastball had less velocity than Weaver’s did and he spent over a month on the disabled list due to a hip injury. Weaver’s days at the top of the rotation appear to be over. The 6’7” veteran is entering his final year under contract with the Angels and will have to greatly outperform his 2015 season if he wants to get any respectable contract offers in free agency, let alone keep his spot in the rotation throughout the season.
Hector Santiago: B+
Santiago was a very pleasant surprise for the Angels in 2015. He jumped from the back of the rotation to an All-Star after a very impressive first half where Santiago posted a 2.23 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. But his second half saw him struggle with control and post a miserable 2.0 HR/9. His final numbers stood at a 3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 162 strikeouts in 180.2 innings pitched. Santiago is very unlikely to be selected for a second straight All-Star Game in 2016, but also unlikely to be as bad as he was in 2015’s second half. He showed the Angels that he deserves a rotation spot in an overall positive season for the 28-year-old lefty.
C.J. Wilson: C-
Wilson had a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 132 innings in an injury shortened campaign. Like Weaver, Wilson is entering the final year of his contract and will need to improve on his 2015 numbers to warrant a healthy offseason contract. Wilson has All-Star potential, but needs to regain the control he had when we was with the Rangers to be any better than he has been in his 4-year Angels tenure. Hopefully a healthy Wilson will have a more successful season in 2016 than the 2015 version did.
Matt Shoemaker: C
Shoemaker struggled through his second season with the Angels. After finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, Shoemaker posted a 4.46 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and 116 strikeouts in 135.1 innings in the 2015 season that saw him demoted to AAA in August. Shoemaker got off to a very rough start, he managed just a poor 6.29 ERA over his first eight starts. He then rebounded to a 3.56 ERA over his final 91 innings, showing encouraging signs for his 2016 season. Is Shoemaker the above-average starter that we saw in 2014, or the constant homer-allowing pitcher that we saw in 2015? We should have a much better idea after 2016.
Nick Tropeano: B+
Tropeano, acquired from the Astros for Hank Conger prior to the 2015 season, was better than expected for the Angels in his role as a fill-in for injury. He pitched just 37.2 innings and compiled a 3.82 ERA in them.
21 1/3 of his innings were pitched in September, where he was good for 26 strikeouts and an impressive 2.53 ERA. He won’t likely be in the rotation at the beginning of 2016, but will undoubtedly get multiple opportunities to continue to prove himself worthy of a spot throughout the season.
In closing you can sum up the LA Angels starting pitching in 2015, it would be inconsistency. Hopefully in 2016 the staff will be much more consistent. The bigger question might be who will make-up the LA Angels starting staff in 2016. Only time will tell; Stay tuned ………