After another disappointing season for the LA Angels in 2019, the team made a handful of one-year deals to upgrade their team. Meanwhile, the rest of the division got…worse?
By no means am I declaring the LA Angels as the favorites to win the American League West this season. However, I think the question of can they is one worth evaluating. And before you laugh, let me explain the thought process.
It is a fair statement to say the Angels have improved this offseason. The additions of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to their rotation give them a solid amount of starting pitchers, and Harvey brings a high ceiling to the rotation. Justin Bour and Jonathan Lucroy are both veterans who can help boost an offense that was middle-of-the-pack in 2018. And of course, Cody Allen gives the team a bona fide closer (despite bad 2018 numbers) for Opening Day.
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Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s remain without a starting rotation. While they made that work in 2018, a large part of that was due to Lucroy’s ability to get the best out of his pitchers every day. Their offense was elite last season, along with their bullpen, but without a quality rotation and the absence of Lucroy they’ll find it harder to win games this season.
Then, of course, there is the Houston Astros, who have won the AL West two years in a row. They have one of the most talented teams in the league, and were only a couple of wins away from the World Series in 2018.
However, there is cause for concern of regression for the Astros in 2019. While they still possess two aces in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the rest of their rotation seems faulty after losing Charlie Morton and, so far, showing minimal interest in resigning Dallas Kuechel. Two starting pitchers like Verlander and Cole is great, but someone has to start the rest of the games.
And while their offense will still be one of the best in the league, it seems like utility man Marwin Gonzalez is on his way out of town, and he was a key cog in both of their postseason runs in 2017 and 2018. Their bullpen was also vulnerable last year, and they have done little to address that.
Again, the Angels are not the favorites, nor the second favorites for most people. In the general public’s eye, it is Houston vs. Oakland and then a steep drop off to the Angels. And while the Angels have holes, they have done more this offseason to address them than either the A’s or Astros. They’re still long shots, but do not count the Angels out for the AL West pennant in 2019.