When the LA Angels lost Shohei Ohtani last season, when he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason, the team was without an ace. However, Tyler Skaggs will change that narrative in 2019.
The LA Angels believe in Tyler Skaggs, and have his entire career. They originally drafted him in the first round in 2009, and even after trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they dealt to reacquire him in 2013.
At the time, Skaggs has a career era of 5.43 in the MLB. However, since heading back to Anaheim, he has gotten better each and every year. And 2019 could be the year Skaggs turns into the ace the Angels drafted him to be a decade ago.
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You might ask how a pitcher who has never finished a season with an ERA below four or pitched more than 126 innings in a season might become an ace for a playoff contending team. However, the answer is in the question.
When Skaggs isn’t hampered by injuries, he is one of the best left-handed pitchers in the American League. In the first half of 2018, when Skaggs was healthy, his era was elite, sitting at 2.57. However, his second half ERA jumped to 9.22 as he battled injuries down the stretch.
While that number might scare some people, a large part of that came in two back-to-back starts, where Skaggs allowed a combined 17 runs in 6.2 innings. If you take those two starts away entirely, Skaggs’ season ERA of 4.02 drops all the way to 2.96. That is inarguably an elite number.
Skaggs is also just now entering his prime. At 27-years old, he has multiple years left at peak physical performance, and with new pitching coach Doug White (formerly of he Astors, where he revitalized Justin Verlander‘s career and helped Gerrit Cole breakout in 2018), Skaggs’ level of play is almost guaranteed to take a jump in 2019.
So, to put things simply, all Skaggs has to do this offseason is to work on his durability as a starter. Those two poor starts came around injury concerns, so if Skaggs can stay healthy and pitch deep into the season, his production will speak for itself. While staying healthy is harder than most realize, especially for starting pitchers, Skaggs and the Angels will surely use every resource available to keep the potential ace healthy in 2019.