The LA Angels joined the rest of the MLB in watching the Washington Nationals win the World Series this year. Hopefully, for their sake, they were taking notes.
Because after watching how the Nationals went on to defeat the Houston Astros in a classic seven game series, the LA Angels have a blueprint they can follow to make it back to the Fall Classic.
“Wait, what Vincent? You’re going to try and tell me the 72-90 Angels are capable of doing whatever the Nationals did, but next year?”
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Yeah, pretty much.
The Washington Nationals had a healthy mix of veterans like Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Eaton, star players such as Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon, and young players in Victor Robles and Trea Turner step up throughout their postseason run. Does that not sound like the Angels to you?
Obviously, in a World Series, Ohtani’s usage wouldn’t be that of the everyday variety. However, he’d be someone who makes an impact any time he finds himself on the field. A rebound season from Justin Upton would help the Angels’ case as well.
Then there’s the veteran role players, which the Angels have aplenty. Andrelton Simmons, Tommy La Stella, Brian Goodwin, whoever is their catcher (unless the sign Yasmani Grandal, in which case he’s a star). Albert Pujols is of course as veteran as it gets, and he might prove beneficial in a postseason run given his experience with October baseball.
The Angels also have a handful of youngsters set up to contribute a ton in 2020. David Fletcher is the headliner, especially given Joe Maddon’s praise of the utility man. Luis Rengifo and Matt Thaiss are sure to factor in as well. However, the one name we’re all waiting for: Jo Adell. The Angels’ #1 and overall top five prospect in baseball is scheduled to make it to the MLB as soon as Opening Day.
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While there may be some service time manipulation, Adell is having a phenomenal offseason and showing he’s ready right now. He tore up the Arizona Fall League, as he and a couple Angels’ teammates made the AFL All Star team. Now, he’s playing in the Premier 12 Tournament for Team USA, and showing off some impressive traits so far.
What it really comes down is the rotation for the Angels. The Nationals had three aces to ride for the World Series, and the Angels had one of the worst rotations in MLB history last year.
But, when I say the Angels need to follow the Nationals’ footsteps, I mean they need to break the bank and buy a rotation that can help them compete.
That starts with landing Gerrit Cole in free agency (which seems more and more likely every day). But they need more still. Landing Cole AND another frontline starter is a must. Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler would be a great free agency period.
Those two leading a rotation of Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, and one of Jaime Barria/Felix Peña/Jose Suarez/Patrick Sandoval would be a great regular season rotation, and one breakout season from one of the latter pitchers away from being dominant in October.
So the blueprint is there for Billy Eppler, Arte Moreno, and Joe Maddon as they head into free agency. They know what they need to do, and Arte Moreno has said he’s ready to expand payroll to do it.