Last season, Felix Pena gave the LA Angels one of the best seasons in their rotation. It was cut short, but Pena has a bright future in Anaheim, starting next season.
When the LA Angels lost Felix Pena to a torn ACL in early August, it ended the season of one of the very few bright spots of 2019. Pena served as a starter, reliever, and bulk guy in 2019, and a similar role in 2020 could be a huge boost for the Angels’ pitching staff.
While he had an up-and-down season, Pena was someone who operated extremely well behind an opener. Obviously he was the main contributor in the no-hitter on the night the team honored Tyler Skaggs, but Pena gave the team solid outings throughout the season.
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In 2020, it’s unclear what Felix Pena’s role will be with the Angels. After acquiring Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, the Angels gained two starters who will give a lot of innings and have been extremely durable throughout their careers. With the Angels likely using six starters, they join Shohei Ohtani and Andrew Heaney as shoe-ins for the rotation.
That leaves two spots to fill, and one of those should be considered Griffin Canning‘s. He could lose his spot, but he definitely has an inside track. The final spot comes down to Pena, Dillon Peters, Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria, and Jose Suarez at this point in time. The case can be made that to maximize their pitchers, Pena should be used out of the bullpen in 2020.
Before he signed with Oakland, Yusmeiro Petit was the Angels’ go-to guy when they needed multiple innings of relief. He was a vital part to team success and kept the relievers fresh. That is the same role Pena can fill in 2020, and arguably is what Joe Maddon should use him as.
Last year, the entire Angels bullpen seemed to deteriorate as the season wore on. They were overworked due to a lackluster rotation and lack of a true long-man. In 2020, despite an improved rotation, the Angels could find themselves in a similar situation. Using Pena to link from starter to late-inning relievers rather than burning three arms could be a strategy that pays off big time as the season goes on.
While Felix Pena could very well be in the rotation come the 2020 season, Joe Maddon and Co. may be better off keeping one of their best arms in the bullpen, and making everybody better in the process.