LA Angels should bring back veteran presence to young staff

Can Bartolo Colon help the Angels pitching staff?

The biggest questions for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the last two months have been whether there will there be a season in 2020 and how will it look?  If the season happens, the Angels rotation still needs help and the team could potentially turn to old friend Bartolo Colon as an option.

While Angels general manager Billy Eppler and his staff made some positive moves to improve the team for the 2020 season, there are still a few things missing.  One of the biggest things the Angels are lacking, besides an ace starter, is a veteran leader to bring the current Angels staff together.

Of the 15 pitchers currently on the Angels 40-Man roster, no one is over the age of 30 and the average age is 27.6 years old.  The ten pitchers vying for a spot in the rotation are even younger at 26.2 years old.

Young pitching staffs have been successful in the past, such as the Atlanta Braves staff of the early ’90s that had four starters under the age of 25, but they anchored by the 35-year old crafty veteran Charlie Leibrandt and then brought back an old friend named Steve Bedrosian (Yes, Cam Bedrosian’s father) from 1993 to 1995 to provide some needed veteran wisdom.

The 2003 Florida Marlins were another example of a team that had a rotation of young arms all 25 years old or younger, with the exception of then 30-year old Mark Redman.  More recently the 2010 San Francisco Giants had an average rotation age of 25.8 years old with the only veteran being 32-year-old Barry Zito, who helped mold Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and a 20-year old Madison Bumgarner into a championship staff.

The Angels likely 2020 starting rotation (assuming everyone is healthy) is 25-year-old Shohei Ohtani, 28-year-old Andrew Heaney, 29-year old Julio Teheran, 24-year old Griffin Canning, and 27-year old Dylan Bundy.  Coming up the ranks are 23-year old Patrick Sandoval, 22-year old Jose Suarez, and maybe even 21-year old prospect Hector Yan.  The last three could figure into the rotation picture depending on the health of the first five, with Canning and Ohtani working back from injury.

Who is the leader of this group?  I’m listening ……. That silence is because there is no veteran leadership in the Angels rotation or bullpen.  Julio Teheran is the closest thing to a veteran having been in the Atlanta Braves rotation since 2013.  The veteran of the bullpen is  Cam Bedrosian who has been a fixture since 2015.

There is a guy out there who could fill this role, someone I believe still has something left in the tank, and his name is 46-year old Bartolo Colon.  Colon has been pitching since Bill Clinton was starting his second term in office (1997).  The man lovingly called “Big Sexy”, has 247 career victories in 21 seasons in the majors.  He has pitched in 17 playoff games with six different teams.

It is true that Colon did not pitch in 2019 and his two previous seasons were forgettable going 14-26 with a 6.13 ERA in 2017 and 2018 combined. However, Colon was an All-Star in 2016 with the Mets going 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA.

Forget about the stats for a minute. Bartolo Colon is a veteran pitcher who has managed to pitch for 21 seasons on 12 teams.

That kind of experience is invaluable and Colon can pass that along to the members of a young Angel staff who could use that kind of tutelage. The first time Colon was with the Angels was from 2004-2007 when he won the 2005 Cy Young Award at age-32 and it was only the second time an Angel pitcher has won that award (Dean Chance 1964 is the other).

There is a good possibility that Colon might not even make the Angels 2020 starting rotation, but he could be a valuable swing-man who could both start or pitch in long relief out of the bullpen.

However, what he may lack on the mound would be made up for in his potential leadership and guidance he could provide the Angels pitching staff.  A one-year deal for at most $2 million with some possible incentives could be a major bargain to have Colon around in 2020 to help a young pitching staff mature.

Next: Bartolo Colon wants one more year in the sun.

Here’s hoping the Angels bring “Big Sexy” back for one more round-up.