Do the Los Angeles Angels have a rotation controversy brewing?

Apr 11, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Nick Tropeano (35) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Nick Tropeano (35) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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During Spring Training the Los Angeles Angels the Angels had eight pitchers battling for five spots.  That number quickly went down to six pitchers as C.J. Wilson had a series of setbacks that landed him on the disabled list until at least Mid-May.  Tyler Skaggs also had his rehab from Tommy John surgery slowed way down in order to protect the young pitcher from any lingering issues that could cause a setback, so now it was down to six pitchers battling for five spots.

In the beginning Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker, and Nick Tropeano were said to be battling for the final two spots, however Santiago’s first couple Spring starts took him out of that mix battling for a rotation spot.  So then there were two and they battled Shoemaker and Tropeano for the one remaining spot.

Instead of being a battle of characterized by the Irving Berlin composed song, “Whatever you can do, I can do better”, it was more like the Frank Valli and the Four Seasons song “Let’s Hang On (to what we’ve got” as both pitchers struggled to show any consistency.  Tropeano was 2-0 but sported a 6.48 ERA giving 12 earned runs in 16.2 innings over five Spring starts.  Shoemaker’s Spring numbers were almost a carbon copy of Tropeano’s as Shoe was 2-2 with a 6.84 ERA giving up 19 earned runs in 25 innings over five starts and one relief appearance.

In the end Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia and his staff went for the Major League experience of Shoemaker over the potential of Tropeano.  In Shoemaker’s first start last Friday night against the Texas Rangers he continued to pitch as poorly as he had in the Spring lasting only three innings giving up six runs on seven hits in a 7-3 to loss.  This caused some rumblings on many sports talk radio shows in SoCAL, as well as with Angels fans on social media.

As fate would have it Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney was forced onto the disabled list by tightness in his flexor muscle, so Tropeano was called up from the minors to start Monday’s first road game against the Oakland A’s.  Tropeano was stellar as he pitched five innings of shutout ball giving up six hits while striking out four in the Angels 4-1 victory.

Shoemaker, perhaps hearing that Irving Berlin tune in his head (Whatever you can do I can do better), came out Wednesday afternoon and pitched an absolute gem for six innings. Shoemaker gave up only one hit in six shutout innings while striking out five, helping the Angels to complete the three-game sweep of Oakland with a 5-1 victory, propelling the Angels into first place in the AL West and extending their win streak to four games.

Matt Shoemaker pitched well against Oakland Wednesday in a 5-1 Angels victory. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Shoemaker pitched well against Oakland Wednesday in a 5-1 Angels victory. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

So based on their most recent performance who would you choose to be the Angels fifth starter when either Andrew Heaney returns from the disabled list or Tyler Skaggs is ready to make his return to the majors.  Both of these scenarios are at least two to three weeks away, but it is an interesting question worth mulling over. Hopefully for the Angels and Scioscia we will continue to hear the tune of Irving Berlin rather than Frank Valli’s little ditty.