Without a day off in their first ten days of play in 2020, the Los Angeles Angels may need to shuffle their rotation to accommodate Shohei Ohtani.
The Los Angeles Angels are entering their abbreviated 2020 season with a plan. While the team lacks a true ace on their pitching staff, what they do have it plenty of depth and they intend to utilize it.
With Shohei Ohtani returning to the mound for the first time since September 2018, the Angels are adamant about using a six-man rotation. That will allow Ohtani to only pitch once per week, presumably on Sundays due to the multiple off-days the team has on Mondays.
But what happens when that plan breaks down?
Joe Maddon and his staff will need to address that situation right out of the gate, as the Angels’ schedule has them playing 10-straight games. The team’s first off-day does not until August 3rd, the Halos, that will run a course of six games between Ohtani’s first two Sunday starts.
For those keeping track at home, that is six starts BETWEEN Ohtani’s scheduled appearances, and the Angels have a six-man rotation, INCLUDING Ohtani.
That means the Halos will be forced to use another starter sometime in that span to bridge the gap if they are intent on keeping Ohtani’s starts limited to Sundays.
The Angels retain some flexibility there, as Felix Pena was being considered for a spot in the rotation before Patrick Sandoval‘s return. He could be pulled from the bullpen to take an occasional start, or even utilized as an opener for a bullpen game. The expanded 30-man roster allows for some flexibility in that regard.
This isn’t the only time the Angels will run into this situation. There is also a stretch in late August where the Halos play 18-straight days from August 14-31st. That span features two similar stretches where another two starts would be needed by someone. However, that may be easier to address, as Julio Teheran would presumably be back in the rotation by then and either Matt Andriese or Patrick Sandoval will be returned to the bullpen, but be stretched out enough for the spot start.
With any plan, there is a need for some flexibility, and the Angels have managed to build just enough pliancy into their roster to stay more rigid on Ohtani’s schedule. Of course, that all relies a bit on the ability of the Angels’ pitching staff to stay healthy over the 60-gam sprint, but we can address that at a later date.
While the Angels have yet to fully announce their rotation for the opening series in Oakland, Shohei Ohtani is expected to get his first start of 2020 on Sunday, July 26th. He will follow Andrew Heaney and Dylan Bundy, who will start the first two games of the series.