The LA Angels starting rotation has been much maligned so far this season with injuries and ineffectiveness causing manager Brad Ausmus to scramble to fill out.
When the 2019 season started for the LA Angels optimism was bubbling over with Mike Trout signing an extension and some new arms in the rotation. The Angels seemed primed to contend from the word go.
However, as things have gone the last couple of seasons the injury bug took a bite out the rotation right away. First Andrew Heaney started the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Heaney was first thought to only miss a couple of weeks, but then suffered a setback and had to be shut down. If the Angels are lucky Heaney will be back by the end of May.
Next Tyler Skaggs went on the IL due to a sprained ankle he suffered in his third start of the season causing him to miss two weeks. Skaggs is now back and looked very good on Friday night in picking up the victory against the Kansas City Royals.
That takes of the injuries to the Angels starters now we will focus on ineffectiveness and inconsistency.
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Matt Harvey has been the poster child of inconsistency for the Angels so far this season. In his first start for the Angels Harvey pitched really well and deserved a win, but the Angels offense did not wake up until after he was out of the game. His next three starts were downright horrible as Harvey gave up 19 runs in only 12.1 innings good for a 13.86 ERA.
Over his last two starts Harvey has again found his groove lasting 13 innings and allowing only three runs (2.07 ERA) and Harvey picked up his first win as an Angel. Harvey’s numbers are still not great but he seems to be trending up.
Trevor Cahill has been another Angel starter to be very inconsistent. He is the polar opposite of Harvey as Cahill started the season well with two quality starts in his first three outings and he sported an ERA of 3.50 after those starts. However, since then the bottom has fallen out as Cahill has surrendered 13 runs in 12.1 innings of work (9.49 ERA) which has seen his ERA rise to 5.93. Hopefully Cahill will rite his ship sooner rather than later.
The fifth starter spots have been even more ineffective as Chris Stratton has been downright terrible and he now seems to have lost his spot with Skaggs returning and Angels #2 prospect Griffin Canning being called up from Triple-A to start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Stratton never lasted more than five innings and posted an ERA of 7.04 in five starts. He has now been demoted to the bullpen and could be designated for assignment as early as tomorrow when Canning is officially called up.
The only Angel starter to pitch well in the first month of the season is Felix Pena. Pena is 0-1 with a 3.63 ERA in five starts this season with a 1.07 WHIP. His only issue is length. Pena has yet to make it through more than five innings in any game due to high pitch counts. The Angels are being careful with Pena not allowing him to throw more than 90 pitches in any outing.
Pena’s days in the rotation may be numbered as well when Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano return in the next month. Pena could be an excellent bullpen arm that could be used for multiple innings when needed. We will see what Ausmus decides to do with Pena going forward.
This brings us back to Griffin Canning Who will be called up on Tuesday to make his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays. Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register weighs in the tweet below about Canning’s debut against another top prospect, the Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The Angels second round pick in 2017 out of UCLA, Canning has many in the organization salivating waiting for him to reach the majors. Well salivate no longer as we will get our first taste of Griffin Canning on Tuesday night when he will face the Blue Jays. If you think the Angels are cautious with Tyler Skaggs or Felix Pena, you know Canning will be on a strict pitch count and he will be handled with extreme care.
However Canning is the ace of the future for the Angels and they are hoping he will get some experience over the next month and provide some stability in the fifth starter spot until Tropeano or Heaney returns next month. The Angels could even choose to keep Canning in the rotation if he can be effective on a consistent basis. This will be fun.