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LA Angels starting rotation: Who will be in it in 2017?

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Jun 17, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ask any LA Angels fan, and they will say that the majority reason for the Angels lackluster season was the pitching, in particular the starting rotation. The pitching was bit hard by the injury bug, with three pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery.

The question of next season is: What will the starting rotation look like? One thing is certain that LA Angels will have a lot of holes to fill in and the free agent market isn’t as promising as it has been in years past.

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Going into next season, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, newcomer Ricky Nolasco are projected to be the top starters. Skaggs has come out strong since his two-year recovery from Tommy John in his two outings this season. The biggest concern in 2017 will be Garrett Richards and whether or not he’ll need Tommy John surgery.

Richards has been going through a stem-cell program to repair a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, normally this is a 12-18 month healing process. The latest is Richards has increased his work-outs and his arm feel great. The Angels and Richards are hopeful that he can begin throwing (simulated game) this coming Monday.

If Shoemaker continues to be productive, he could be a possible off-season sign-and-trade to get multiple pitching prospects. However, his contract expires after this season with the eligibility for arbitration. The most likely outcome is he’ll return to the Angels and remain a key component of the rotation for 2017.

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Nolasco, who was just acquired in a trade that also netted one of the top Twins pitching prospects in Alex Meyer in exchange for Hector Santiago, will be a key person in the rotation.  He could be a pleasant surprise or a major disaster.  So far in two starts for the Angels, Nolasco is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA.  Not spectacular to say the least, but we will see how he ends up at the end of the season. However, Nolasco still has one year left on his contract plus a team option in 2018 so he will most likely been in the rotation in 2017.

Depending on what happens with Richards, the Angels have one to two spots still unaccounted for due to Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano having Tommy John surgrey, you have to question who will round out the rotation. Will the Angels pick up a starter in the off-season?

There’s a few options available, Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies is a pitcher some teams will look at and possibly take a chance on. Another potential target Andrew Cashner of the Florida Marlins, Doug Fister, and Colby Lewis of the Rangers although he is coming off an injury in 2016.

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Perhaps they’ll re-sign Jered Weaver to be a 5th starter or put him in a bullpen position. Jhoulys Chacin is also a free agent following this season, do the Angels resign him? The other options could be someone from the minors such as lefty Nate Smith or the aforementioned Alex Meyer acquired in the Santiago trade could possibly compete for a spot in the rotation.

Next: Can Skaggs Stop Losing Streak?

The pitching in general will be the key focus point in the off-season. The starting rotation will be just one piece of the puzzle to solve next season. As long as Shoemaker and Skaggs remain healthy, the rotation will remain stabilized the rest of this season and into next year.

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