Five Los Angeles Angels starters, some already cemented in the rotation, others battling for a spot, have become the Fab Five of Spring.
Any positive story about the Los Angeles Angels and their pitching staff is a welcome sight for sore eyes and ERAs, alike.
But before I get into the main point of this article, allow me to digress.
I’ve been teaching my daughter how to interpret box scores. She is seven years old, she will probably spend the majority of her life reading statistics off tickers and phone screens, but I wanted to teach her the art of reading the box score printed in the old-fashioned newspaper.
In Spring Training, the exercise is a little more difficult. When I quiz her about who pitched well for the Angels, she has to read through a laundry list of names, sometimes six or seven deep, and decide if these micro performances are worthy of mention.
Which brings us back to the point of this article. Two weeks into Spring Training and we can finally start looking at some trends emerging from all of the little performances to gain a broader understanding of what has been happening.
So far, the theme for the 2020 Angels in the Cactus League has been their starting pitching.
Through 40.2 combined innings of work, Matt Andriese, Jaime Barria, Jose Suarez, Dylan Bundy, and Dillon Peters have surrendered a combined three earned runs. Yeah, I know you can read that in the graphic above, but the stat is worth repeating.
The Fab Five of Spring have been dominant in Arizona, giving Los Angeles Angels fans much needed hope about a starting staff that desperately needs improvement.
While Bundy has a guaranteed turn in the rotation, the other four hurlers are using this spring to make the case they should be included too. As Shohei Ohtani continues to recover from Tommy John surgery and the Angels hold their breath on the fate of Griffin Canning, it leaves two open rotation slots behind Andrew Heaney, Julio Teheran, and Bundy. If Patrick Sandoval secures what appears to be a favored chance at being the fourth starter, we could be watching four starters battling for one open spot.
In thinking about the Halos’ Fab Five of Spring, you can separate them into three categories:
- The chosen one,
- The guys who were terrible last season, and
- The newcomer
Dylan Bundy has seemingly already won the hearts of many Angels fans hoping that a new team and division will help him realize his potential as a bona-fide stud. As mentioned earlier, his rotation spot is locked.
Then there are Peters, Barria, and Suarez, all three starters who pitched for the Angels last season, none of whom were able to finish the year with an ERA below 5.50.
Finally, there is the newcomer, Matt Andriese. Acquired from the Diamondbacks in January, the 30-year-old righty has worked mostly in relief since 2018, but after throwing four more scoreless innings on Sunday as a starter, he might be putting himself into the conversation for a rotation role.
There is still a lot of baseball to play before the Angels return to California. Sparkling clean starts can quickly stain over a larger sample size. If the Fab Five of Spring keep it up, it will give manager Joe Maddon plenty of options to fill out the back of his rotation. It will also give him confidence in filling spots that open in the future from injury, or place someone in a bullpen role with more responsibility.
With the calendar still flipped to early March, and final roster decisions a few weeks away, Angels fans can just enjoy a positive story about their pitching staff for once.