It’s officially the dog days for the LA Angels
The LA Angels have lost four games in a this week, but no one is panicking, despite it being the stretch run of September. Why you might ask? The reason is simple the Angels have been out of the race since July.
The LA Angels and their fans have suffered through one of the toughest seasons in recent memory. The team has never really been in contention since the first month and have lost 79 games with 20 still to play. Couple this with the fact that four-fifths or their starting rotation that started the season is either on the disabled list or has been traded to another team. This is not to mention all the injuries they have had to position players as well.
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When Daniel Wright stepped on the Angel Stadium mound Saturday evening he was the 15th player to do so this season for the Angels. Wright fared better than some and worse than others giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings. The Angels have pieced together a rotation recently of farmhands and players that other teams have thrown away with a few exceptions. This was necessary because every time you turn around you see another player going down with an injury.
At the beginning of the season people talked about the Angels pitching depth as they had eight major league arms fighting for five rotation spots. That number dwindled quickly as Andrew Heaney went down after his first start of the season and Garrett Richards followed less than a month later. This allowed Matt Shoemaker to secure his spot in the rotation despite an opening month 9.15 ERA and a short trip to Triple-A Salt Lake City. It also gave the next in line Nick Tropeano a chance to show his stuff as a permanent part of the rotation.
Tropeano however became the third victim of a UCL tear in his elbow in early July. C.J. Wilson also was shut down for the season after one rehab start in late May which brought the total number of starters from the beginning of the season to four. This forced the Angels to scramble and they acquired Jhoulys Chacin from the Braves and also signed former two-time Cy Young Award winner TIm Lincecum who was a free agent. This did work out very well in either case, although Chacin has shown good stuff out of the bullpen since losing his starting role.
The Angels then traded one of their most effective pitchers, Hector Santiago, to the Twins for a guy with a 5.40 ERA, Ricky Nolasco, and a top prospect who only pitched 40 innings this season due to an arm injury, named Alex Meyer. The final blow to the staff came last week. Staff ace Matt Shoemaker, the same guy who had a 9.15 ERA the first month of the season, had battled back to respectability with a 9-13 record and a 3.88 ERA, had his season cut short as he was hit in the head by a 105 MPH line drive ending his season.
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The only pitcher who has been in the rotation all season is 33 year old Jered Weaver who is 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA which on some teams would not be acceptable, but for the 2016 Angels it is actually respectable. Weaver pitches today in what could be one of his final few starts as an Angel. He has been the ultimate competitor and has been one of the best pitchers in club history, but unfortunately Father Time has hit him hard over the last few years, and a once live arm that threw in the low 90’s is now throwing in the low 80’s.
The September pitching staff will now be made up of Weaver, Tyler Skaggs (who has been the lone bright spot coming back from elbow surgery), Ricky Nolasco (acquired in a trade), Alex Meyer (top prospect of the Twins), and then a crapshoot for the fifth starter spot. The Angels are audition players including Meyer and Wright to see if they fit in the teams plans for 2017. Even Weaver, Nolasco, and Skaggs are auditioning somewhat for next season.
You will see a few more guys start or coming out of the bullpen this last 20 games in order for the Angels to evaluate them. The same can be said for some of the position players as well such as Rafael Ortega, Nick Buss, Ji-Man Choi, Gregorio Petit, and even Jefry Marte who all have done some good things this season, but are on the bubble for next season’s roster.
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There others who I haven’t named on the position player side that will get a shot to prove they can play in the majors. As tough as it is for fans to see the Angels not in the playoff race, I say sit back and enjoy some of the potential stars of tomorrow. A few years back names like Trout, Calhoun, Richards, and Cron were getting their first taste of big league action with the Angels during the stretch runs in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and look where they are now. Not saying any of the names I mentioned will turn into these type of players, but you never know this is the land where Magic happens and dreams come true only a few miles away. Some of these players could play a key part in an Angels World Series Run in the next couple of years “It could happen”.