With injury issues will Nick Tropeano be in the Los Angeles Angels rotation in 2016?
At the beginning of Spring Training Nick Tropeano was a longshot to make the rotation. Now with injuries to Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and the slow comeback of Tyler Skaggs it is looking more and more like Tropeano will be the 5th starter when the Los Angeles Angels break camp in two weeks.
The Angeles acquired Nick Tropeano and catcher Carlos Perez from Houston in exchange for catcher Hank Conger. This may be one of the Angels best trades in the past 10 years as Perez is now the starting catcher and Tropeano has shown great promise in a few spot starts last season. Tropeano went 3-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 37.2 IP with 38 strikeouts in seven starts. In the stretch run last season Tropeano had two spot starts first against the Astros when Tropeano pitched 4.2 innings giving up 4 hits and two unearned runs with five strikeouts. In his final start Tropeano showed a sign of what could be a budding young career going 6.2 innings against Oakland giving up three hits and one run with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
So far in Spring Training this year Tropeano is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA, not exactly what the Angels would like to see out of a pitcher who will probably be in the rotation, even if it is by default. Going into Spring Training the Angels had eight starting pitchers and now they only have five who are fully healthy including Tropeano. Wilson has had multiple setbacks and is not even able to throw from a mound so there is no telling when he might be able to get back to the rotation. Weaver has been diagnosed with a degenerative condition in his neck and no one is quite sure when he will be back either. Weaver says he will be ready to take his first start, but even if he is ready the question becomes how effective will he be. The final piece to the puzzle is Skaggs who is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery, but the Angels are being extra careful with him. With that being said Skaggs will not be able to jump into the rotation until probably late April.
With all this being said the likelihood of Tropeano being the fifth starter for at least two turns through the rotation is becoming more and more likely. If Tropeano does well in the brief stint may allow him to stay in the rotation even longer. Matt Shoemaker was another unlikely candidate for the rotation going into training camp, but he will be the fourth starter in the rotation behind locks Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Andrew Heaney. Shoemaker has also struggled in Spring Training sporting a 1-2 record with an 8.36 ERA, if this continues into the season, then Nick Tropeano with a good early showing could bump Shoemaker from the rotation when one of the injured three pitchers is able to return to the rotation.
So to put it mildly in a phrase my dad has used for years that sums up Tropeano’s situation “Shape up or ship out”. If Tropeano can shape up he could make the Angels’ decision that much tougher when Skaggs, Weaver, or Wilson return to the mound. Sooner probably rather than later Nick Tropeano will be a part of the Angels rotation for good, the question is will it be in 2016 or 2017 when Weaver and Wilson will probably leave the Angels via free agency if one of them doesn’t get traded before then. Will Nick Tropeano be ready when the opportunity comes, the Angels hope so.