Los Angeles Angels
Like I said before the Angels have done a lot in this off-season to close the gap with the AL’s elite teams. Acquiring Justin Upton and subsequently resigning him was huge for the team. Signing Shohei Ohtani who will both pitch and hit was another big move moving the Angels ever closer in the playoff race. Then adding Zack Cozart to fill the third base hole (hopefully if he can make the transition from shortstop) and trading for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler to fill both the lead-off spot and second base was also huge.
The only thing you have to watch out for is the next surprise team which will most likely come from the Angels own division in Texas or Seattle, possibly even the Oakland A’s as all of them have made moves to improve on their final standings in 2017. But like the Angels these three teams had a considerable gap to overcome and I don’t think any of them did as much as the Angels did this off-season. Couple this with the fact the Angels already have some key pieces in two-time MVP Mike Trout, veteran designated hitter Albert Pujols and Gold Glove winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons who also had a great year at the plate.
If Kole Calhoun can bounce back offensively in right field and Luis Valbuena and C.J. Cron can provide some power at first base along with Pujols you also have a very strong line-up from top to bottom like all the other AL Pennant Contenders.
Want your voice heard? Join the Halo Hangout team!
The key will bee the health and effectiveness of the Angels pitching staff. Shohei Ohtani and his high 90’s fastball should go a long way in doing so as well as having a healthy Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney, not to mention Matt Shoemaker and Parker Bridwell. These will most likely be the six starters the Angels will break camp with to employ the experimental six-man rotation. This is an above average group of young pitchers other than the veteran Shoemaker. Nick Tropeano or J.C. Ramirez could also pitch their way into the mix if anyone falters or is injured.
The bullpen is still a question mark as to who will fill what role in 2018. There are a lot of good arms who have shown tremendous potential at times and been terrible at other times. Blake Parker, Kenyan Middleton, and Cam Bedrosian all possess high 90’s fastballs and have closer experience as well as newly acquired veteran Jim Johnson. Between these four arms you will probably see the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning pitchers for 2018. Other key arms for the Angels in the pen could be Jose Alvarez (lefty specialist), Eduardo Paredes, Noe Ramirez, and possibly Troy Scribner as well as any starters who do not make the rotation such as J.C. Ramirez, Tropeano, or even Shoemaker.
The Angels pitching depth is their biggest strength in 2018 and if it holds up this team will be even stronger. This staff could surprise many and become one of the top young staffs in baseball, or they could fail miserably and be injury-proved like they have been the last three seasons. If this group comes together like the Angels hope it could vault the Angels up and maybe give them an outside chance of taking down Houston for the division or maybe upsetting some teams in the playoffs and getting to the ALCS. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.
So in closing Angel fans don’t count your pennants before they hatch or plan on buying your World Series tickets just yet. But know this the 2018 Los Angeles Angels are for real and with a little luck it could be a Red October in Anaheim.