The LA Angels have high hopes for Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs for 2018 as they are counting on them to be a major part of their starting rotation along with Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani and ace Garrett Richards.
In 2017 the LA Angels were trying to hang in the wild-card picture despite having a starting rotation that had been decimated by injuries and their MVP, Mike Trout on the disabled list. The Angels used smoke and mirrors, but were able to do so until not only Trout returned, but Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, and Garrett Richards returned to the mound.
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While Richards looked to be in nearly top-form despite not being totally stretched out, Heaney and Skaggs were not great over the final two months of the season, which is one of the reasons the Angels fell out of the wild-card race in September.
Is this cause for concern for the Angels? Maybe just a little bit. If Heaney and Skaggs continue to be ineffective in the first month of the season I will be the first one to sound the alarm bell, but right now I think fans should be in a wait-and-see mode. Give both pitchers a regular off-season and a full Spring Training and see how they do.
Heaney was coming off Tommy John Surgery and returned ahead of schedule, a decision that may have not been the best, but was necessitated by the injuries on the Angels staff. Heaney was 1-2 with a 7.06 ERA in five starts and he had a 1.66 WHIP. The most alarming thing was the fact he gave up 12 home runs in only 21.2 innings.
Skaggs came back in 2016 from Tommy John Surgery going 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts. He started 2017 pretty well going 1-1 with a 3.99 ERA in five starts in April before returning to the DL in May with a right oblique muscle strain that kept him out until August.
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When Skaggs returned in August he was largely ineffective going 1-5 with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Like Heaney, Skaggs was victimized by the long ball allowing 10 home runs in 55.2 innings after his return from the DL.
On the other hand Garrett Richards was very effective in his September return from a right bicep strain. Richards went 0-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 23 innings and a 0.91 WHIP striking out 23 batters. The most impressive stat was that opponents hit only .181 against Richards.
The Angels signed Japanese-sensation Shohei Ohtani in hopes of solidifying their rotation, but the biggest key to the success of the Angels rotation will be if Heaney and Skaggs can return to form and they both, along with Richards stay healthy throughout the 2018 season.
These four pitchers Ohtani, Richards, Heaney, and Skaggs will almost assuredly be part of the starting rotation whether the Angels choose to go with a traditional five-man or switch to a six-man rotation to accommodate Ohtani.
I do believe that we will see a different Heaney and Skaggs in 2018 and that the Angels staff will be much-improved. We will just have to wait and see if they can stay healthy.