Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but an LA Angels pitcher is dealing with an elbow injury, has been shut down, and is questionable for Opening Day.
The LA Angels announced on Wednesday that left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney was in that exact scenario. There had been questions around his health for some time, and the Angels did decide to proceed with caution for their potential #1 starter this year.
This calls into question though, if not Heaney, then who? One player will have to take his place in the rotation while another fills the void as a first or second option. Let’s assume (risky, I know) Tyler Skaggs can step in and be the Opening Day starter/#1 option.
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Who takes over as the second starter in Anaheim? More than likely, it’ll come down to whoever is well-rested on that day. However, one name to watch is Matt Harvey. While his 4.50 ERA with the Reds last season wasn’t spectacular, it showed improvement from his numbers with the Mets the past two years. He has the ceiling to be a top of the rotation arm, and if Heaney misses time to start the regular season, the Angels may just be banking on a hot start from Harvey.
At the back end of the rotation, to fill in the empty spot, Felix Peña is a name to watch. Peña is in the thick of a battle with Jaime Barria for that fifth starter spot. However, despite a strong Spring Training from Peña, it seems very likely Barria gets the nod to start the season in the rotation.
However, if Heaney started the season on the Injured List, Peña could find himself in the rotation alongside Barria, rather than in place of. Last season, Peña pitched in 19 games (17 starts) for the Angels, and had a 4.18 ERA. This Spring has been solid for him, as he has been exceptional with a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched.
While obviously you want Heaney healthy as soon as possible, the Angels have a plethora of pitchers within their organization who can be fourth or fifth starters. The real concern with Heaney potentially missing time isn’t who would be the new fifth starter, but whether or not anyone would be able to step up alongside Skaggs to lead the rotation.