LA Angels Series Preview: Bringing Tyler Skaggs back home
By Ryan Falla
Put up or shut up
The Angels are going to have a tough time getting through this series with the leaky starting pitching they’re throwing out in this series. Taylor Cole will be opening the first game of the set for Felix Pena and Pena hasn’t really been all that solid as of late. His last outing saw him allow 2 runs across 4 innings against the Houston Astros in a much needed to win game that the Angels failed to win (what’s new). While that doesn’t sound like the worst appearance it still highlights the Angels biggest problem this season; starters who cannot go deep into games.
Sure Felix Pena may only be a quasi-starter with openers pitching in the majority of his starts this season, but with the state of the Angels bullpen being as fatigued as they are it’s going to take some serious gumption from our starters in the 2nd half if this team wants to play for anything of note.
Felix Pena may not have been great as of late, but he hasn’t been totally awful either. On the other hand Matt Harvey has been terribly awful in practically every start he’s thrown this season. He’s finally making his return after missing more than a month with back issues and a couple of mediocre rehabilitation starts within the Angels system.
Harvey’s last start came on May 23rd when he pitched only 2.2 innings against the Twins while allowing 7 runs in that very short time on the mound in that start. Harvey’s biggest issue before his injury was a lack of power in his pitches as his velocity dipped to unusable levels, a sentiment highlighted by the crushing ineffectiveness of his last start out May 23rd.
If Harvey can return with legitimate health and a handle on his velocity there may be some value there still to be had. I’m not counting on Harvey putting it all together, but I am expecting some sense of value to be shown in his start against the Mariners.
The last game of the set will see rookie pitcher Jose Suarez looking to get it going as he’s found struggles in his last handful of starts. Suarez was a main contributor in the Angels most recent loss to the Astros as he pitched just 3.1 innings of 2 run baseball. You never want to point fingers at a player for a loss, especially a rookie, but the fact is that Suarez’ failure to go deeper into the game forced the Angels bullpen to be stretched and over-exposed over the course of nearly 7 innings. It was a really ugly game to have to watch as Angels superstar Mike Trout carried the team on his back with late game home runs to take the lead, leads which were immediately blown by the incoming bullpen.
Jose Suarez is going to need to step his game up and start seriously contributing to this club if he wants any shot at sticking in the rotation for the remainder of the 2nd half. His performances has been as lackluster as the rest of the starting rotation sans Griffin Canning and there is no reason, aside from depth, to keep him up in the majors.
Sure, depth is a one of the greater reasons to keep someone tucked away on the roster, but at this point we can’t stomach any more starts that directly contribute to the Angels bullpen fatigue. Most of the Angels starting staff has been the sole contributors of this teams woes and that’s going to need to end somewhere. Jose Suarez no longer has the excuse of being a fresh rookie trying to figure it out, his first 3 starts were strong starts but since then he’s been overwhelmingly mediocre.
It is disappointing to see Suarez simply fall in line with the rest of the starting staff and display the same exact struggles the Angels were hoping to avoid with his youthful presence, but at the same time no one really expected him to be any better than a bottom-end starter. If he wants to shed that notion that he is simply a bottom of the rotation pitcher he’s going to have to start by bringing pitching into at least the 5th inning on a regular basis. If Suarez continues to exasperate the Angels bullpen woes then there really is no more place for him on this squad until he gets his control, composure, and pitch efficiency in order.