A way-too-early look at the candidates for the Angels' 2018 rotation

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Before I start let me first apologize for a couple of things. First I think a version of this was already done. I don’t remember specifically but I think Jessica wrote a similar post a little while back. If so then I apologize to her and the HH community. Second I apologize for prematurely moving onto next season. The Angels are still in it. There is plenty to talk about. But with the team finally having a good offense it’s made me focus on this team’s biggest issue for next year which upon closer examination is a big wild card. This is also premature. It’s likely we add another name or two to the mix in the offseason. This type of post is more suited during the off season but I couldn’t resist.

Watching a good offense has me all excited. I love Upton hitting behind Trout. And Phillips leading off and playing second is preferable to anything else we’ve been doing the past few years. Things still need to get sorted out offensively for next year. But as long as we avoid a Josh Hamiltonian type disaster this team’s offense should be much better next year.

So with an improved offense focus turns to our pitching if we want to compete next year. The rotation could be the key to competing next year. Let’s take another look at the candidates.

Garrett Richards

Ah. G-Rich. So much has already been said about our once potential ace. If healthy, Richards has the ability to be a leader in this rotation. He may lack ace credentials but he is a strong number two. Problem is he hasn’t been healthy and there are still plenty of health concerns. Richards will be a month from 30 when the 2018 season starts and could very well bounce back in 2018. But after making only 6 starts in 2016 and not starting his second game of 2017 until September it might be too much to expect that he takes a regular spot in the 2018 season.

Tyler Skaggs

Most of us know Tyler’s story. Along with Richards Tyler was drafted by the Angels in that famed 2009 draft, but traded in 2010 to Arizona, then reacquired in 2013. Skaggs was having a good rookie campaign in 2014 before tearing his Ulnar collateral ligament and needing Tommy John which cost him all of 2015. 2016 then 2017 were supposed to be his comeback years but he’s continued to be haunted by arm and shoulder injuries. Will 2018 finally be the season where he puts injuries behind him? At 26 years old he’s still young so if he can stay on the mound he would be a strong middle of the rotation piece.

Andrew Heaney

Funny guy Heaney was acquired for Howie Kendrick before the 2015 season to continue to address the Angels rotation needs. 2015 was a good rookie year to build off of but Heaney only made one start in 2016 before his Ulnar collateral ligament tore. 2016 was lost. 2017 was supposed to be lost too. But Heaney made good progress and returned sooner than expected. After a year and a half away Heaney is still going through the transition back to an everyday starter. If all continues to go well he could be a very solid piece at the front of the rotation next year.

Alex Meyer

Another young pitcher the Angels acquired via trade with some injury concerns. We all hope the Twins sold low on him and he can become what we hope he can be. He pitched a career high in innings this year. He’s young and has potential but also injury concerns. If he can stay healthy he will provide quality innings from the middle of the rotation.

Nick Tropeano

I feel like many people forget about Nitro. He was another victim of the Angels Tommy John epidemic. Perhaps this was his strategy. Since everyone else was going down with elbow issues this was a good time to go ahead and get this ligament replacement thing out of the way. Acquired during the 2014 off season for your favorite backup catcher from Huntington Beach Nitro was a good pick up. He’s close to coming back from TJS. If all goes well he could be ready to go by the start of next season. If he can avoid the longer recovery route that Skaggs took then he can provide some quality starts from the back end of the rotation.

Matt Shoemaker

Man who doesn’t love them some Shoe? You need these type of guys in your rotation. Matt’s becoming the old guy in the rotation. Matt has provided three and half years of mostly quality pitching, often at times when the Angels needed it the most. But the injury bug caught Shoe this year and he was limited to just 14 starts after averaging over 23 starts the past three years. Shoe is still a very affordable pitcher. If the Angels can get him healthy and back to his cobbling ways then Matt would make a great piece to round out the rotation.

As wild as the above candidates have been we have a few more even wilder

Parker Bridwell

Eppler made a heck of a steal getting Bridwell for a PTBNL. Bridwell had all of 3.1 MLB innings under his belt before arriving in Anaheim. So the guy was a complete unknown. Perhaps this has led to some early success while the book on him was still being written. He kept his ERA under 4 for most of his 15 starts. But his last two starts have been rough only lasting 3 innings and giving up 7 and 6 earned runs, respectively. Is this just a slight blip on the radar from a guy who’s never thrown this many major league innings or a sign that the book on Bridwell is on the shelf? Either way I still think Bridwell will be getting starts in Tempe in March with a chance to make the rotation.

JC Ramirez

Another dope pick up by Eppler. If anyone tells you they predicted Ramirez’s success they are lying to you. Ramirez has bounced around his whole career. He was granted free agency three times before the Angels pulled him off waivers. No matter. Ramirez just put up the best season on his career. Although shut down by injuries for the rest of this season. Possibly for throwing more than he ever had before. Ramirez is another guy who I expect to get a good look during spring training.

Troy Scribner

There is a reason why most of us hadn’t ever heard of Troy before this year. He was undrafted and signed by the Astros as an amateur free agent. After only a year and a half in Houston’s system the Angels purchased his contract at the end of spring training this year. He made his major league debut this season and did an okay job. Honestly I don’t know what to make out of Scribner. Someone smarter than me could give you a better take on his potential. I don’t know how serious of a candidate he is to make the rotation next year but he could be someone we see starting games for the Angels in 2017.

Nate Smith

I should stop the list with Scribner. But for some dumb reason I feel like including Smith. This is mostly dumb because unlike everyone else mentioned Smith hasn’t even pitched for the Angels this year. What’s more he only pitched one game in AAA this year due to injuries. Perhaps I just want to throw in a dark horse into the conversation. Smith is still listed as the 9th best prospect in the Angels system but the fourth best pitcher, although he’s the closet to the majors. Problem is he’s stalled out in AAA. He’s been on the Bee’s roster since May 2015 but still hasn’t thrown a single pitch for the big club. The thing I find most interesting/tragic about Smith is that he is a victim of terrible timing. At exactly the moment when rotation sports were opening he started struggling with injury problems himself. That’s got to eat a guy up. Will he get healthy? It may not matter if enough of the above guys get healthy. That’d bother a guy. Whelp try to not think about it Nate.

Anyway there you have it. I tried to keep summaries brief. I’m interested in what you all think about our rotation for next year. What is interesting is that I can just as easily see any one of these guys making the rotation next year as I can see any one of them not making it. The next six months will be important.

This FanPost is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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