The Los Angeles Angels had to deal with a number of issues in 2017, but they kept pushing. It didn’t seem to matter what happened this team wouldn’t quit. The Angels stayed that way right up to the end in Chicago last night.
The Los Angeles Angels had moderate expectations for this season as they started out in Spring Training. The offense looked to be much-improved as well as their defense with the addition of left fielder Cameron Maybin, second baseman Danny Espinosa, and catcher Martin Maldonado. In addition they also added corner infielder Luis Valbuena who was a left-handed bat with home run power and he could play both first and third base as well as DH.
The question though would be the pitching staff, especially the starting rotation. The Angels knew they would not have Nick Tropeano for the full season and Andrew Heaney would most likely be in the same boat. Both Tropeano and Heaney had undergone Tommy John Surgery during the 2016 season and were both not scheduled to be back until 2018. The Angels seemed to have dodged a bullet when staff ace Garrett Richards had avoided the same surgery by doing an experimental stem-cell injection therapy in lieu of TJ Surgery.
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Going into the season the Angels staff was supposed to consist of Richards, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, and Jesse Chavez. That lasted all of two games as Richards went down with a bicep strain in his right arm that would keep him out most of the season. A few weeks later Skaggs went down with a right oblique strain which would cause him to miss three months.
So the Angels will forced to go with Plan B and Plan C. Alex Meyer was called up to replace Richards and then J.C. Ramirez, who started the season as a reliever was converted into a starter to replace Skaggs. Both pitchers struggled at first, but started to get it going in early June. The rotation seemed to be hanging together okay until Matt Shoemaker went down in mid-June with a right forearm strain which would take him out for the remainder of the season.
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So Plan D had to be enacted as the Angels called up a 26-year old rookie Parker Bridwell who had been basically discarded by the Baltimore Orioles early in the season. Angels general manager Billy Eppler the master of finding the “Diamonds in the Rough” found another one in Bridwell as he won six of his first 10 starts and only lost one time in that stretch. In July the Angels lost both Meyer and Ramirez to season-ending arm injury that turned out to be a labral tear for Meyer and a partial UCL tear for Ramirez which will cause both pitchers to miss the 2018 season.
The Angels turned to Triple-A pitcher Troy Scribner to replace Chavez in the rotation due to ineffectiveness and then they final got some good news. They would get Tyler Skaggs back from the DL and he would be followed by Andrew Heaney who was three months ahead of schedule. However, both Heaney and Skaggs would not be the saviors as both struggled upon their return. The Angels did get Richards back finally in September and although he could not pitch deep into the game due to not being stretched out it was still a lift.
All the while the Angels pressed on and continued to hang in the wild-card race. Offensively they suffered through seven weeks without Mike Trout, but stayed afloat. They suffered through an agonizing two months that saw Espinosa struggle to keep his average above .170, but they pressed on.
The Angels saw an effective bullpen for most of the season, but one that would implode majorly on occasion blowing two five plus run leads in the same week. They even went out and made a few big acquisitions at the end of August, acquiring MVP candidate Justin Upton and veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips. Unfortunately in the end it was not enough.
However, as frustrating as it was at some points it was a really fun ride. 45 comeback victories and hanging around the playoff race until the last week of the season was great. I can’t wait to see what next year will have in store for the Angels.
Let’s see what happens!!!!