LA Angels: Five Biggest Storylines to Watch for the 2019 Season
By Vincent Page
As always for the Angels, the starting rotation will be a big, big storyline to watch in 2019. The days of waiting for Garrett Richards to be the ace the Angels drafted are now over, as that role will now fall onto two young pitchers rather than one.
Last season, Tyler Skaggs had a 2.62 through his first 19 starts of the season and was making a claim as one of the best lefty starters in the American League. A weight room incident, followed by Skaggs admittedly rushing back too soon, derailed his season from then on, finishing with an ERA north of four.
Last year, Andrew Heaney started the season injured, made his debut on April 13th, then went on to make 30 starts, leading the team in that category, while posting a 4.05 ERA.
This year, in 2019, these two are going to be counted on. For Skaggs, it’s all about staying healthy, something he took seriously over the offseason. With Heaney, the advanced stats say he should be a better pitcher with his swing and miss rates, and an improvement can be expected.
After them, the two new guys in town are Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, the latter of which will be starting on Opening Day. While both veterans have upside, they both come with concerns as well.
For Harvey, the potential is obvious. At his best, he could be an exceptional starting pitcher. Last year, after being traded to Cincinnati, Harvey saw some improvement. This Spring his velocity has seemed to be coming back after a downward trend in years past. He has a knack for going late into games as well, something the Angels will love after overusing their bullpen last year.
Cahill’s numbers last year were solid, especially when he pitched at home. He’ll also get to continue pitching to Jonathan Lucroy, who was his catcher with the Oakland A’s last year. While some doubt Cahill can produce the same for the Halos as he did for the A’s last year, there’s reason to believe his numbers could improve with a better coaching staff and elite defense behind him (though Oakland’s defense is no weak link).
Rounding out the rotation could be two names. First, Jaime Barria, who dazzled last year as a rookie and showed up to camp looking noticeably leaner. He will be competing for the fifth rotation spot with Felix Peña, who was solid for the Angels last season in limited action. The veteran also just struck out nine pitchers in 3.1 innings against the Dodgers in his final Spring Training start.
With Heaney starting the season on the Injured List, it will give the team more time to decide whether Peña or Barria is the better option, or maybe even make the move to use a six man rotation again in 2019.
The aforementioned Lucroy will be huge for the entire rotation and bullpen this year. Last season with the A’s, as their rotation fell apart, Lucroy was able to guide the pitchers to a season that shocked the entire MLB. The Angels’ 2019 rotation is better than the A’s was last year, and Halo fans have reason to be excited about their new catcher.
In comparison to last season, this rotation is improved. Staying healthy will obviously be huge for them, but this could be the season fans see the rotation go from a liability to a strength.