When the LA Angels landed Shohei Ohtani last offseason, it was a seemingly obvious choice to make the move to a six man rotation for the season. While Ohtani won’t pitch for the Angels in 2019, it may still be in the Angels’ best interest to use the same strategy this year.
While the LA Angels made moves this offseason to improve their rotation with the signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, there are still questions about the team’s group of starters. So far this Spring Training, we have seen Tyler Skaggs, Harvey, and Andrew Heaney deal with injuries, with Heaney being shut down with elbow inflammation.
Injuries have marred this team for years, and have hit the rotation the hardest. This is the biggest reason manager Brad Ausmus should utilize the six man rotation. The thought process is simple. An extra starter means an extra day between starts for everybody. This not only gives the starters more time to study their next opponent, but an extra day of recovery from their last start.
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The obvious argument is that a team should want their five best pitchers on the mound as often as possible. Using a sixth, and likely inferior, starter would be detrimental to the success of the team. However, that same exact argument can be used for someone in support of a six man rotation. That extra day would ease the stress of the pitchers over the season, resulting in less fatigue and, theoretically, less injuries.
While a team obviously should not use a six man rotation without six starters who are MLB ready, the Angels have enough guys in their organization who can be successful pitchers in the MLB. The aforementioned four pitchers are already penciled in should they be healthy, and with Jaime Barria in a competition with Felix Pena for the fifth spot, having a six man rotation would allow both to be in the rotation. Both Barria and Pena are solid starters in the MLB, and having them each in the rotation would be an advantage.
The Halos also have adequate depth in their organization, making the six man rotation even more plausible. Taylor Cole started games last season, Dillon Peters has torn it up this Spring Training, and names like JC Ramirez and Nick Tropeano are expected to complete their respective recoveries from injury within the first couple of months of the season.
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With the epidemic of injuries to the starting rotation in Anaheim, the Angels would be very wise to use the idea of a six man rotation this season. With Mike Trout‘s 2020 free agency being watched now more than ever, every injury could hurt the Angels not just this season, but their future as an organization.