LA Angels News

Projecting the LA Angels Optimal 2020 Rotation

By Vincent Page
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /
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With the LA Angels expecting Shohei Ohtani to return to the mound in 2020, the shift back to a six-man rotation is expected.

So who will be the six pitchers for the LA Angels? Some of the spots are locked up, but a large amount will be left to free agency and competition from within the organization. However, I think the Angels’ optimal rotation come Opening Day looks like this:

1.) Top Tier Free Agent 

2.) Andrew Heaney

3.) Shohei Ohtani

4.) Griffin Canning

5.) Mid-Tier Free Agent

6.) Competition

*Note: Felix Peña is not included due to his torn ACL, but if he is healthy come Opening Day I’d expect him to have the first shot at the sixth spot in the rotation*

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In the first spot, we all know who it is the Angels are going to be targeting. Gerrit Cole has been linked to the Halos in free agency for nearly a year now. They’re as close to a perfect match as it comes, and the So Cal native will surely earn top dollar from any team he decides to sign with. If he signs with the team, he’ll be the ace they have been searching for the past decade.

Andrew Heaney has absolutely proven himself as the de facto #2 for next year. He has pitched like a true ace the past two months, but is better suited to be the second option in a rotation rather than leaned on as the top guy. Heaney has said himself, when he’s healthy and not worried about injury, he believes he’s one of the best lefties in the league. And this season, he’s proved it.

To finish off the top half of the rotation, Shohei Ohtani makes his return to the mound. He showed flashes of being a true ace in 2018. While his workload will likely be monitored closely by the Halos, his return to being a two-way player isn’t just great news for him and the Angels, but the entire baseball world.

The second half of the rotation is where things get interesting. Griffin Canning has been shut down for this season, a decision that came later than needed. He was one of the most impressive rookie pitchers the Angels have ever had, and he’s going to be a key part of the rotation for years to come. Channing’s spot in the rotation is as secured as anyone’s.

While the Angels do hope to sign Garret Cole, they’re more than just one ace away from a viable rotation. If they want to truly contend, they’ll need to sign a second name to add to their starting group. A few names worth considering are Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, and Kyle Gibson. None of them have any shot of becoming an ace, but provide ample depth and can eat innings at the back of the rotation.

Next. Luiz Gohara HAs Huge Potential for Angels Rotation

For the sixth spot, I’d expect a competition between a handful of names to compete for it. Patrick Sandoval has been dynamic in his short stint in the majors. Jaime Barria has improved all season, highlighted by dominant showings against two of the best teams in baseball in the Dodgers and the Astros. Felix Pena, it healthy, obviously has the inside track at the spot.

Despite having one of the worst rotations of all-time this season, there is still reason for optimism going into 2020. If the Halos can going into the season with a rotation looking like the one detailed here, they’ll be strong, legitimate contenders for the first time in years.

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