Needless to say this is a huge blow to the Angels pitching staff in 2022.
C-Rod was one of LA’s best pitchers last year (when he was healthy), producing a 3.64 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and bullpen.
The expectation was that he would compete for a spot in the starting rotation this Spring, or at the very least, be guaranteed a spot in the bullpen as the team’s top long reliever.
For what it’s worth, however, there is a slight silver lining here as losing Rodriguez does make it easier to figure out what to do with our current logjam of young pitching talent.
With Chris Rodriguez out, the rest of the LA Angels’ young pitchers will have a chance to step up.
First and foremost, losing Chris Rodriguez significantly increases the odds that LA Angels top prospect Reid Detmers will see more time in the rotation this year, possibly even from day one.
Detmers had a cup of coffee with the Angels last year, producing mixed results.
Though his 7.40 ERA is pretty unsightly, he did flash enough talent to show why he was a top prospect in the first place. That should be enough to put him atop the shortlist of in-house options for the sixth spot in the 2022 rotation.
Ideally, the Angels rotation will, in no particular order, go something like Shohei Ohtani, free agent/trade, free agent/trade, Patrick Sandoval, and Jose Suarez, as well as a final spot to be decided in Spring Training.
Speaking of Naughton and Junk, Rodriguez’s absence makes each of their paths to the majors much clearer as well. Though not as highly regarded as Detmers, both of them performed admirably in their brief time with the club last year.
In all likelihood, barring some incredible Spring performances, Detmers, Naughton and Junk will all probably spend the beginning of 2022 serving as starting pitching depth in Triple A.
With Rodriguez out, however, each one is that much closer to being an emergency callup should the need arise. Should even one of them step up in a major way, losing Rodriguez will be a moot point.
As for Canning and Barria, the former is likely on his last chance to stick around with the Angels while the latter is out of minor league options. This means that both stand decent odds to either make the Opening Day roster or be part of a trade package this offseason, though, this was the case regardless of Rodriguez’s status.
With a Rodriguez-sized hole in the bullpen, combined with our need to sign a couple of high-impact relievers to supplement Raisel Iglesias, keeping Mayers and Cishek makes more sense than ever.
After all, why let go of two of our best relievers and create two more gaps in an already understaffed bullpen?
None of this is to say that losing C-Rod for most of the season is a good thing, especially since he was shaping up to be a core member of the Halos moving forward.
All of this just means that without Rodriguez, more guys will get a chance to prove themselves and maybe even wow us enough to guarantee themselves a place on this team for years to come.