Since Jim Gardner is on vacation, here is my fill in for his daily report... a trip into the crystal ball...
The Angels are solidifying a good, deep pitching staff for the 2015 season. Where will it all be in a year? Let's examine the possibilities. Here are my predictions for how things shape up during the 2016 season for the Angels starting staff...
1. Jered Weaver - No matter his age, The Weave will be in a contract year. With Scott Boras as his agent and already having given the Halos a hometown discount on one contract, chances are the writing on the wall tells him to excel like never before to at least allow him the pick of where he goes in the bigs. The thought of losing Weaver to free agency turns my stomach, but the dangling carrot of a big contract will benefit the team in 2016 as WTY proves he is still an elite arm in the league.
2. Garrett Richards - Fully healed from his 2014 knee injury, we can expect his Age 28 season to be a dominant one. Richards is not a free agent until after the 2018 season and his arbitration requests will be based on the pure stats he racks up. Another Boras client, you can bet he isn't going to sign an extension either, but again, as fans we can look to benefit from another of his All-Star-worthy campaigns in 2016.
3. Andrew Heaney - This will definitely be the season of "Howie Who?" on Halo fan tongues. The lanky lefty will have established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter during the 2015 season and will turn 25 as the Summer of the '16 campaign reveals him to be one of the better arms in the division.
4. Nick Tropeano - He will be 25 on Opening Day next season and his slider will be on its way to being the great third pitch he needs to dominate at this level. The biggest gap in the rotation's quality will be between #3 and #4. While Weaver, Richards and Heaney loom as the team's "Big Three", Tropeano will still be mountain-biking his way to respectability in the bigs.
5. Matt Shoemaker - The league will be catching up to him but his stamina, poise and nasty stuff will still be in Anaheim in 2016. Shoebacca will be the best fifth starter in the division.
WAIT - What about Tyler Skaggs?
Skaggs will show that he is back from Tommy John 100% early in the 2016 season and will be traded to shore up some glaring offensive weakness - my bet is at Catcher after the departure of Chris Iannetta.
WAIT - What about C.J. Wilson?
He will have been traded at the deadline in July of 2015 for some mid-level prospects.
WAIT - What about Hector Santiago?
He will have been sent to Baltimore along with Josh Hamilton in the 2015 Winter Meetings. Every Angels fan will blurt out: "Great trade, who did we get?"
WAIT - What about Sean Newcomb?
With their good pitching depth, the Angels allow Newcomb to develop over time but Shoemaker and Tropeano will be losing sleep by the middle of the Summer of '16.
WAIT - What about Jose Alvarez?
He will be the long reliever / spot starter on the 2016 club.
WAIT - What about Joe Gatto?
Relax - look for him in 2018.
Take a big leap forward and predict what you see coming in 2016 for the Five Man Starting Rotation of Anaheim...