Pitching down the Stretch

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Yesterday, Tyler Skaggs had Tommy John surgery which ended his 2014 and 2015 seasons.  He was likely to be a key man in the Angels rotation going down the stretch with perhaps Santiago moving to the bullpen.  The Angels don’t visible have the strongest starting rotation among AL contenders, especially given the recent trades by the Tigers and A’s.  They don’t have a Price or a Lester.  But there is a relatively new ace in Richards, a mostly consistent Weaver, a wildly unpredictable Wilson, an inconsistent but improving Santiago, and surprising decent rookie Shoemaker.  Do the Angels need to land an Ace for the stretch – if there is even a way to make a deal happen and player to make it happen with?  Is there anyone in the organization that could step up if needed?

Right now you have division leading A’s, Orioles, Tigers and wildcard contenders Angels, Royals and Mariners.  Of those 6 teams let looks at 6 full season stats: The Halos rank 4th in starting pitcher ERA & Runs allowed, 3rd in OBP, 2nd in BAA & WHIP (behind Seattle), and 1st in fewest HR & total bases allowed.  The bullpen stats are even better, especially over the past few months and the Angels starter stats have been improving.  In a small sampling, those rankings since All Star break are relatively the same.

I think given the cost of bringing in an ace, and the stats referenced above, it becomes harder to justify changing much – at least in the way of transactions.  What about pitching talent int he farm system?  Could we see any stellar starting talent come up from the minors in the next month?  It’s difficult to call up an untested starter down the stretch but it can happen.  At the very least the Angels may need to look at minor league talent for their starting rotation next year.  Below I talk about some possible contenders.
The liklikehood of starting % is based on getting at least 1 start in 2014 and 2 starts in 2015.

Michael Roth, AA, 24
This lefty is 10-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.  He has a low K/9 of 4.8.  He is not ready for a big league starting role but may see some more relief time.
Experience: 3rd Year
MLB Experience: 26.2 innings, 17 games, 6.75 ERA (no big league starts)
2014 Likelihood: 0%
2015 Likelihood: 10%

Nate Smith, AA, 22
Last year Smith was playing in the rookie league so he’s moved up quickly.  This year in Arkansas he’s 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  His K/9 is impressive at 9.7 and has been going up as he moves up. Still a bit young to be a starter and doesn’t go deep so he needs to build his endurance still.
Experience: 2nd Year
MLB Experience: None
2014 Likelihood: 0%
2015 Likelihood: 15%

Drew Rucinski, AA, 25
10-6 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  He goes longer than Smith or Roth on most occasions (2 complete games to their none).  He has a K/9 of 8.3 and doesn’t give up tons of homers.
Experience: 2nd Year
MLB Experience: Third Year, 1 game, 1 inning, 1 really bad outing
2014 Likelihood: 5%
2015 Likelihood: 15%

Wade LeBlanc, AAA, 30
Doesn’t quite average 6 innings per appearance and sports a 4.13 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
Experience: 9th Year
MLB Experience: 98 games (68 as starter), 4.56 ERA and 1.44 WHIP
2014 Likelihood: 5%
2015 Likelihood: 10%

Caleb Clay, AAA, 26
The Angels called him up for about 2 days earlier in the week but as an extra bullpen arm.  He’s 3-3 this season with a 3.78 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.  He also pitched a complete game shutout in July giving up only 3 hits.
Experience: 8th Year
MLB Experience: None
2014 Likelihood: 10%
2015 Likelihood: 20%

Looking that those prospects and the rest of the farm system, it’s no surprise to anyone that there are not any strong contenders.  A few possible arms could make a start but currently there is no one blowing anyone away.  The question remains if any of them will see a big league start in the next 8 weeks and/or if any of them can make the rotation or even get a start in 2015.

Or perhaps Dipoto will go after a new starter in the off season?

The current problem, however, is the Angels Offense.  No one new is needed there since the talent is already in place.  The first half best offense in the league just needs to get back in the groove before our bats become (more of) the problem.



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