Breaking down the LA Angels 40-man roster: Who should stay and who should go?

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim strikes out swinging as catcher Beau Taylor #46 of the Oakland Athletics looks for the ball during the sixth inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Anaheim, California. Ohtani struck out swinging. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim strikes out swinging as catcher Beau Taylor #46 of the Oakland Athletics looks for the ball during the sixth inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Anaheim, California. Ohtani struck out swinging. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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Jared Walsh – Walsh is one of the most interesting people on this list of players who are on the bubble to return to the Angels in 2020.  Walsh can play first base only which makes him a lot less versatile from other players in the infield mix.  He is a left-handed reliever and has had some success in this capacity in the majors.

Walsh has hit .217 with a homer and three RBIs in 46 at-bats this season for the Angels.  In the minors he has been a beast hitting .301 with 85 homers and 311 RBIs in four years in the minors.  The biggest issue is that there is a log jam in the infield and Walsh’s lack of versatility may are him the odd-man out and if he is left off the 40-man roster at season’s end he could be taken in the Rule 5 Draft by other team.

Hopefully the Angels will decide to bring Walsh back as he has some untapped potential he just needs time and regular at-bats in the majors to get acclimated and hopefully have more success.

Jose Suarez  – Suarez has been up and down with the Angels this season and has had some success, but overall has struggled. He like Patrick Sandoval was probably called up before he was ready, but unlike Sandoval, Suarez has not shown the ability to consistently get batters out.

His record is 2-6 with a 6.94 ERA in 16 games with a 1.64 WHIP, but his opponents’ batting average is .306 and he has given up 88 hits in only 71.1 innings and has given up 20 home runs which is one HR every 3.1 innings which is a very high rate.

I don’t think it is time to give up on Suarez just yet. He needs to work on his location and command before next season if he hopes to be in the mix for a starting rotation spot or even working out of the bullpen.

Dillon Peters – Peters was acquired just before the season started and has had a nice season although a little too inconsistent at times. However, over the last month he has been much better putting together multiple quality starts four in his last seven starts. His overall numbers is 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP with 47 K’s in 56.2 innings. Peters numbers could be better, but are not bad.  He could be in the majors come the start of the 2020 season.

Luke Bard – Bard has had an up and down year both out of the bullpen and as an opener in some games.  He has had some successful stretches this season where he has been very effective, but other times Bard has been lit up. His overall numbers are not great a 1-2 record with a 5.05 ERA in 41 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts.

Bard is a relatively low-cost option to that has shown versatility in the Angels bullpen which could help him to earn a spot in the bullpen.  We will just have to wait and see how things play out.

Taylor Ward – Once upon a time Ward was the Angels first-round draft pick back in 2015. He was anointed as the Angels catcher of the future.  A lot has happened since then and Ward is still trying to figure things out.  The Angels decided to switch Ward from catcher to third base in 2018 so that he could concentrate on hitting.The results in the minors were amazing as Ward hit .349 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs in 102 games in Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2018 before getting his first call-up to the majors in August of 2018.

Ward showed some promise hitting six homers and driving in 15 runs in only 135 at-bats, but unfortunately he struck out 45 times and his batting average was a paltry .178.  This year in Salt Lake City Ward is again tearing up the PCL League pitching, hitting .306 with 27 homer and 71 RBIs. He has gotten almost no chance to play for the Angels this season as he has only appeared in 12 games and gotten 18 at-bats (.111 average).

So the question is have the Angels given up on Ward?  The good thing is that they have tried to increase Ward’s versatility having him play both first and third base along with left and right field in hopes of finding a place for him on the major league roster. Another good sign is that the Angels did in fact call Ward up during the roster expansion whereas Jose Rojas and Kaleb Cowart were not called up.

Ward is a hard-working likeable young man and he is still very young at 25 so all of this bodes well for him for being on the roster in 2020, but the jury is still out.

Justin Bour – Bour was signed in January after being non-tendered by the Philadelphia Phillies.  It looked like it could be a great fit for both sides.  Angel Stadum had a short right-field fence and a need for a left-handed power bat which would be right up Bour’s alley. In addition he could be the perfect platoon for Albert Pujols at first as Bour was decent with the glove and left-handed.

However, things went south quickly as Bour started the season in a major slump hitting only .164 with four homers and 14 RBIs in the first six weeks of the season.  He was sent to the minors in the middle of May. Bour came back a month later and looked like a new man in June hitting .300 with with four homers and driving in 11 runs. However he has hit .095 since then and it is looking like he will finish his first season in Anaheim hitting under .200 and in a dogfight to keep his roster spot.

Unlike Ward, Bour has no versatility only playing first base this season and he is also six years older at 31 which does not bode well for him. The one thing in his favor is that he has proven himself in the majors in past seasons hitting .254 for his career with 92 homers and 303 RBIs and a career .340 OBP as he has drawn 217 walks in his five years in the majors..

I don’t see the Angels keeping Walsh, Bour, and Ward all on the 40 man roster so it will be an interesting decision that they will have to make regarding the trio.

Jamie Barria – 

Barria was a big surprise when he burst on the scene in 2018 going 10-9 with a 3.41 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 129.1 innings. However he was slighted at the end of Spring Training after seemingly winning the fifth starter role, the Angels demoted him to Triple-A and traded for Chris Stratton (remember him).

Barria has not seemed to recover from the demotion as he has not pitched with the same confidence consistently this season when he has been with the Angels. Barria is 4-8 with a 6.14 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.  Like Jose Suarez, Barria has been victimized by the long ball giving up 18 homers in only 70.1 innings.

The Angels will have a tough decision to make with Barria, but just as with Suarez, Barria is still young at only 23 years old.  He can pitch out of the bullpen as well which makes him more versatile. So you may still see Barria in Angel red in 2020, but as of right now it could go either way.

Taylor Cole – Taylor Cole is the final player on the Angels current 40-man roster that has a decent chance of being on the team in 2020.  Cole has had some great moments this season including being a part of the combined no-hitter with Felix Pena on July 12th when the Angels honored fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs.

On August 1st Cole had a sparkling 2.94 ERA for the season with a 1.28 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 33 innings of work and an opponents batting average of .223. But then things went south in a hurry come August.

Cole was lit up in back-to-back opener appearances against Cleveland and then Cincinnati giving up nine runs in only 1.1 innings of work.  He had two more disastrous outings on August 13th and then August 25th where he gave up four and then seven earned runs in a total of 1.2 innings of work.

Cole finished with a 19.80 ERA in the month of August and his season ERA had ballooned to 6.80 and a WHIP of 1.67 with an opponent batting average of .297.

However, if you look at Cole’s entire body of work in 2019 coupled with a stellar 2018 season where Cole went 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP with an opponents batting average of .169 and you see that Cole has been effective throughout the majority of his time in Anaheim.

The question will be is whether he will be judged on his entire body of work in two seasons or will that terrible one month lead to his demise with the Angels. Cole also is a little older than some of his competitors as he is 30.  This will be another difficult decision for Billy Eppler and friends.