Last year the Los Angeles Angels had one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball and as a team, they ranked 25th in ERA and allowed the fifth-most runs in the league. The Halos made some moves this offseason to strengthen their rotation and add to their bullpen which was enough to be projected as a playoff team. Here’s the list of the guys coming back and the new additions who will help the Angels push for the postseason.
Can the Angels turn their pitching from a weakness into a strength this season?
First and foremost, Opening Day starter and the surprise of the year in Dylan Bundy looks to piggyback off a solid 2020 outing. The former number four overall pick is having a nice spring with just under 12 innings and nine punch outs to go along with a sub-one ERA. For Bundy, 2020 may have been a shortened season but a 2.95 FIP and 3.29 ERA are encouraging numbers to look at along with the spring he has been having. Look for Bundy to have another solid year and be the anchor for the Halos rotation.
Ohtani has just had ups in his career on the mound so far met with more downs. It’s not that he has so much struggled on the mound, it’s that whenever he gets into a groove he gets hurt again. I made the argument after the season that he should stick to hitting and learn a new position. It looks like Ohtani’s 14 strikeouts through eight innings this spring is what manager Joe Maddon needed to see to keep him in the rotation though.
There is no doubt that Ohtani is an outstanding pitcher when healthy. The issue is how often ‘when healthy’ is. While when he is on it’s great, when he is off though they are missing a bat that right now is a .600 batting average in spring with four homers over 25 at bats. It’ll be interesting to see if Ohtani struggles early, if Maddon does not make him an every fifth day starter but more of a spot starter for games like double headers or maybe just interleague games.
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Cobb came over from Baltimore and the Angels are hoping they can get out of him what they got out of his former and now current teammate, Dylan Bundy. Last year Cobb had a 2-5 record over ten games with a 4.30 ERA. He has had a promising spring through eight innings while fanning eight as well. Cobb could be as high in the rotation as a number two but he could fall to a three or a four depending on Ohtani and Quintana’s outings.
An All-Star in 2016 that led to his blockbuster trade in 2017 that sent him from South Side to the North Side of Chicago, Quintana never really took a dramatic fall from grace but ever was that All-Star pitcher again. His FIP has dropped each of the past three years while his ERA has stayed a little higher (4+) than he would want. However, Quintana has shown good signs moving forward this spring with 15 punch outs over 14 innings and a sub one ERA. Quintana was a good signing for the Halos ball club and should really help them make a push in the West.
Iglesias has spent his whole career in Cincinnati going back and forth between either blowing saves or being one of the best closers in the league. His biggest issue is consistency and if he can bring his best to Los Angeles, then he will be a problem for opposing teams. A wicked breaking ball that makes the best batters miss, Iglesias, has the potential and the ceiling himself, to give the Angels those last three outs they need when it matters. He has been in clutch situations before and wants to be the closer. The former starter turned closer loves being in the moment and the opportunity to shut it down. His spring has been solid through seven games with nine punch outs over seven innings.
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The Angels have the talent and truthfully, they have enough pitching to fix the issues they had so bad last year. Joe Maddon has proven to be better over time and between that and the new additions and the loaded batting order they already have, the Angels are in a good spot. A’s are going through some changes up top, Rangers are awful, Mariners are a couple years away and I really can’t figure out what this Houston team is. Believe it or not, it’s the Angels window and they should have enough to take advantage of at least their division.