LA Angels: The Case for Tyler Chatwood in 2018
The LA Angels starting pitching staff was a giant black hole in 2017 and it’s no surprise the team is hitting the pitching pool hard this offseason. Although many have their eyes on Darvish and Arrieta, two likely 100+ million dollar men, I’m here to open your eyes to a world beyond money and flash moves.
What if I told you the LA Angels could land a middle of the pack starter for less than 30 million? What if I told this pitcher’s name was Tyler Chatwood?
The LA Angels have had a rough season out of the starting rotation so far, like many of the seasons before. It seems to be that, if the bullpen isn’t struggling to maintain productive starts, we have our starting rotation failing to hand our relievers a manageable game. That sentiment has never been more apparent in 2017 which touted a solid bullpen that featured an outstanding Blake Parker, Yusmerio Petit (now a free agent), and the late addition of Noe Ramirez (jury still out for Noe).
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A resigning here and a couple of depth additions there and the bullpen will retain a competent form, maybe even ascend to “lights out” territory. Now, this article isn’t an analysis of the bullpen, but it’s still very easy to see how some roster tweaks and forcing Mike Scioscia to actually pitch his players in the right spot (give Parker the closer job already, end this madness!) will improve this team.
Refocusing on the starting staff, this team is starved for middle-of-the-pack depth. Last year the distance in competency from our #1 pitcher to #5 was atrocious, this was a starting rotation that fell off fast. There was little depth to protect the Opening Day rotation from injury and therefore even less depth to protect our back-ups from injury. It was quite a mess last year and looks to be the same unless the Angels fluff up the rotation with a strong middle order.
The first step to doing so? Bring Tyler Chatwood back home. Back in 2011 this young man, now a free agent after five seasons with Colorado, was sent away in a trade for Chris Ianetta.
At first glance his stats may not be the most impressive; two seasons an ERA in the high 4’s doesn’t seem all too alluring. But lets remember, Chatwood has only pitched three seasons of 100 I.P or more. In 2013, 2016, and 2017 in which he put up respective ERAs of 3.15, 3.87, and 4.69. Not the most impressive, but not too bad to be honest, those numbers would fit pretty well on the Angels staff. Guess that’s that then right? Time to lock him up as a low-tier starter?
Slow down there for a second buddy, Chatwood’s got some pretty decent numbers but is a serviceable starter really his ceiling?
Quick answer? No.
We need to put Chatwood’s performances into context. First off, he’s been pitching on one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors, Coors Field. In his performances at home Chatwood put up a meager 6.09 ERA. Well that’s an easy pass, right? Not when you account from his road splits however, in 77.1 innings pitched away from Coors field Chatwood has fielded a strong 3.49 ERA. With a S/09 of 7.4 at home and 7.2 away it’s clear that there’s little anomaly mucking up his splits.
It’s encouraging to see Chatwood put up strong numbers away from the pitching trap of Colorado especially given his consistency at home and away. If he were putting up vastly different performances than it would be another story. Fortunately for us and the Angels there are no anomalies here. In fact the biggest anomaly is probably that his third highest IP rate came in his rookie season with the Angels (142.0 IP in 2011).
The fact that he pitched more innings away from Colorado with better results, albeit a bit of a small sample size (7 more innings in 2017) is extremely encouraging. Here’s another tidbit for you, in 2016 his home/away splits were even more dramatic. In 158.0 total IP as a starter Chatwood delivered a remarkable split of 6.12 at home and 1.69 away from Colorado.
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On top of that Chatwood can also function as a reliever, in 2017 he pitched a total of 11.1 IP out of the ‘pen to a 3.69 ERA. Even more encouraging is his S/09 rate jumped from 7.2 as a starter to 8.7 as a reliever. This is the exact kind of depth the Angels are looking for this offseason, an inexpensive middle of the order piece who can bring wins and provide depth to both the starters and the bullpen.
Garrett Richards is out again? Pop Chatwood a slot or two up in the rotation and you’ll be okay, no need to fish for Bud Norris or Ricky Nolasco anymore…
Just typing that out makes my soul shudder. At the age of 27, Chatwood has more than enough gas left in his tank, and a one way ticket out of Colorado might do more to preserve the years he has left.
I’m not trying to claim Chatwood is some pitching savant being held back by Colorado, but the fact is there is a ton of talent being overshadowed by the conditions he pitches in. Bring Chatwood back home, any offer between 3yrs/17m-3yrs/22m (depending on the bidding desperation) should get the job done.
Next: Time to Reunite with Cameron Maybin
My best estimation? He gets locked up for 3yrs/19m on a hometown discount. Coming back to your home team that you also started your career with alongside the post-season probabilities should be enough to tempt him back home.
Unless Mike Scioscia has something to say about it….