The LA Angels still need a frontline pitcher is Hyun-Jin Ryu the Answer?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Aaron Sanchez #18 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park on August 20, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Aaron Sanchez #18 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park on August 20, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

If you are a true LA Angels fan you have been watching the free agent signings and trades hoping for the same thing I am. That the Angels get an ace to lead their staff.

With each big name free agent pitcher that signs the chance of the LA Angels getting that ace for their staff is getting smaller and smaller, at least through free agency.  Other than Hyun-Jin Ryu there are really no proven frontline starters left in free agency. This is very different from the last two couple of seasons when there were a few guys who were signed at the last-minute before Spring Training and even one who signed at the beginning of June in Dallas Keuchel.

With Dallas Keuchel signing with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, the only frontline pitcher that seems to be left is former Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Ryun is 54-33 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Ryu has pitched five full seasons in the majors but missed the entire 2015 season and only pitched in one game in 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgery for a left shoulder impingement.  He came back in 2017 in 25 starts going 5-9 with a 3.77 ERA.  Nothing special but at least he made it through that season without injury.

In 2018 Ryu pitched very well but battled injuries throughout the season going 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP.  In 2019 Ryu had an outstanding year going 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.  When healthy Ryu has ace potential, but that is the big issue, is he worth giving a multi-year contract?  The contract offer that will probably entice Ryu to sign will be somewhere between 17 and 20 million dollars per season but many teams may be shying away due to the fact of Ryu’s injury issues and age(he will be 33 when the 2020 season starts).

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If the Angels can get Ryu for a three-year deal under 60 million dollars I think it will be worth the risk.  More than three years is not worth the risk, but the Angels might have to do it in order to sign Ryu. So if the Angels don’t sign Ryu is there any other viable options in free agency. Not really.

The best out there according to the WAR is Homer Bailey who actually had a pretty good year for the A’s, but is a risky proposition.  Andrew Cashner and Ivan Nova are also decent pitchers.  Nova went 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, but I don’t think he is worth the money.  Cashner is about the same going 11-8 with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

No the best option left in free agency is 27-year old Aaron Sanchez.  Do not look at last year’s numbers which were forgettable as Sanchez went 5-14 with a 5.89 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP.  However, Sanchez is overall 34-33 in his career with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.  He is definitely a risk, but he has a high upside as his stuff iss above average with a mid-90’s fastball and nice assortment of breaking pitches.  He is not an ace that we really want, but he could potentially be and he has not yet reached his prime years 28-32 years old. Plus we now have a pitching guru in Mickey Callaway.

Would I rather have Ryu? You bet. Any day and twice on Sunday.  However, if the Angels don’t get him Sanchez is not a bad consolation prize.  I think he is also less of an injury risk and definitely will command a lot less money so if the Angels are in the race in July, Billy Eppler will have the flexibility to trade for an ace starter.

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Let’s see how things play out with Ryu, but if the Angels do not get Hyun-Jin Ryu all is not lost as the pitching staff will definitely be much-improved from 2019. There is still also a chance that the Angels make a trade for a starting pitcher, but the only question is what they would have to give up to get someone that will help the staff. This team could make a run with what it has right now with the exception of catcher which I feel will still be addressed before next season.