Angels’ rotation could get a big boost if this reliever’s starter conversion pans out

LA may have a diamond in the rough that could be a big time contributor in their rotation in 2024.

Sep 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Jose Soriano (59)
Sep 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Jose Soriano (59) / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is fully aware at this point that the Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation is the weakest part of their roster. Right now, their 2024 projected rotation seems to be a collection of spare parts and formerly strong pitching prospects that the team hopes will turn into something. In a brutally difficult AL West, that isn't likely to move the needle very much.

Right now, the Angels' biggest hope is that Arte Moreno will open his wallet and let the front office go out and sign Blake Snell, but that may be asking a bit much of an owner that seems as though he doesn't want to spend in 2024 -- especially on a pitcher. That leaves the Angels' internal options, and it does seem like LA has some things cooking on that front.

There was already word that the Angels are planning to stretch out Andrew Wantz as a starter, which is a novel solution to not having many real starting pitching prospects of note. However, Wantz isn't the only reliever that could end up getting converted into a rotation arm, as Jose Soriano is also stretching out to try his hand at starting again.

Jose Soriano's conversion to starting could save the LA Angels' rotation this year

Unlike Wantz, who hasn't been a starter since 2019, Soriano was actually a really good starting pitching prospect until he had a pair of Tommy John surgeries that pushed him into the bullpen. After being returned to the Angels (he was a Rule 5 draftee) and recovering, Soriano put up a hell of a season in 2023 in the Angels' bullpen with a 3.64 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 42 innings of work.

What will be important to monitor is how Soriano's stuff looks when he is trying to throw five innings as opposed to just one. He has always been a power pitcher relying on an upper 90s fastball and hard breaking stuff. It is fair to guess that he might not throw quite as hard as a starter, but what is currently unknown is whether taking a bit off of his pitches will end up hurting his ability to be effective in a starting role.

So far, the results this spring have been good. His first start this spring, he threw three ultra-efficient innings where he gave up one hit while striking out five batters; manager Ron Washington had nothing but good things to say about his performance. If Soriano can give the Angels anything close to that for five to six innings a start, LA could really make some noise in 2024.

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