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Analyzing Angels Starting pitcher candidates - Part 3: The Rest

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Ramirez, Bridwell, Tropeano, Scribner are the topic in part 3 of 3

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

You can never have too much pitching. This is a fact. Even the World Series bound Astros and Dodgers used 11 and 10 starting pitching during their 2017 drive to the Fall Classic. For their part, the Angels have 13 different pitchers start games last year, when 12 of them starting more than 1 game. This year, the Angels have quite a few capable arms, so we’ll take a look at the guys who’ve pitched in the big leagues (no Shohei Ohtani or Jaime Barria) and what to expect out of them this year.

In part 1 we looked at the lefties
In Part 2 we looked at the “veterans”
Part 3 will look at the rest (#5 guys, etc)

Going into spring training, the Angels have 8 guys who could make the starting rotation. Some of these guys below could compete for a 5th start spot, be a 6th starter (if the Angels go that route), fill in with spot starts, or be a long man in the bullpen.

J.C. Ramirez

Age: 29 Throws: R
Debut: June 23, 2103
Innings Pitched (MLB): 273.2

Pitch Repetoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball

Summary

J.C. Ramirez threw 147 of his career 273.2 innings just last season, making him the most experienced of the rest of these pitchers. Of course, Ramirez ended his season early in mid-august with what ended up being a UCL tear. Previously, Ramirez had never thrown more than 78 innings in a single season.

In terms of fastballs, Ramirez throws mainly a two-seam sinker that he blazes across the plate at an average of 96.1 - the second fastest sinker in baseball next to Micahel Fulmer. Ramirez throws a four seam fastball as well which was his predominate pitch before joining the Angels and the flipped the usages of his 2 and 4 seamers. He’ll also throw a very rare splitter (only 8 times in 2017). Prior to 2017, Ramirez had never thrown a curve, but he successfully added that to his repertoire last year.

Ramirez certainly doesn’t overpower with strikeouts and only had 6.4K/9 with a 16.9% K rate. He had a pretty respectable WAR of 1.1 which was the first positive year of his career. Ramirez was a starkly different pitcher on the road vs. at home with a 3.48 road ERA and 4.80 in Anaheim. Also, were it not for his month of June in which he fell to a 7.04 ERA, Ramirez’s overall numbers would have looked even better.

Source: Brooks Baseball

Pitch Details

Ramirez cut down on his fastball use dramatically last season and used his sinker a lot more. Ramirez gets a few more whiffs out of his sinker and 10% increased out of zone swing rate and he threw it in the zone about 10% more frequently as well. Interestingly enough, hitters had an average 60 points higher against his sinker, hitting it more for line drives that his four seam fastball.

Ramirez used his slider as his main strikeout pitch with a 22.1% K rate and an impressive 15.2% whiff pace. It was still a pretty good pitch for him, but not quite as effective in 2016 when he managed a 41% out of zone swing rate. While he does get a 49% ground ball rate, his fastball is much better at 67%. His slider is also a bit prone to home runs at times.

For his newest pitch, Ramirez added a curveball that isn’t spectacular, but does have nice 12-6 movement and gave him a 21% K rate.

What to expect in 2018

First, the Angels need Ramirez to come back healthy for his torn UCL and subsequent treatments (he just threw off a mound for the first time on Tuesday). It’s not clear if he will even make the starting rotation or be completely ready by the start of the season. Ramirez is also out of options so he’ll start the season on the 25 man roster or the DL. Steamer predictions have Ramirez with 112 IP, a 4.54 ERA, and 1 WAR. I think with this dude it’s hard to predict since it’s unclear when he’ll be ready, if he’s one of the 5 regular starters, etc. Ramirez doesn’t have any remarkable pitches, but has enough of the tools to be effective again this year, and he could be a great long option out of the bullpen.

Parker Bridwell

Age: 26 Throws: R
Debut: August 21, 2016
Innings Pitched (MLB): 124.1

Pitch Repetoire: Fastball, Cutter, Curveball, Changeup

Summary

Bridwell had a career year last year, which wasn’t hard considering it was his first. Kidding aside, Bridwell had a heck of a rookie campaign for a guy the Orioles basically dumped. Along with a 10-3 record and 121 innings, Bridwell had a 1.198 WHIP, 3.64 ERA and 1.0 WAR. Before we get too excited, he also had some concerning numbers like a very low 5.4 K/9 rate, and a FIP more than 1 point higher than his ERA at 4.84.

Bridwell has a good variety in his pitch repertoire. He throws 5 different pitches since he has a 2 and 4 seam fastball.

Despite some warning signs on the peripheral numbers, Bridwell got the job done. He had 5 starts that went 7+ innings and 14 of his 21 starts he allowed just 2 or fewer runs. Bridwell also showed some potential of what he could be when he held hitters to a .216 AVG in July (his 2nd full big league month) with a 3.31 FIP and 0.90 WHIP.

Pitch Details

Bridwell gave up a .315 AVG against his fastball - almost identical to his .319 BABIP on that pitch. He rarely gets whiffs of it with a 3.3% rate, but it’s his strike pitch that he throws in the zone 56.8% of the time - more than any other pitch. Unfortunately, he also gave up his highest walk rate on his fastball so needs to command it a bit better. One of the original appeals of Bridwell as a prospect was his sinker. He threw that more and his fastball less over the past season and was pretty successful with it and it’s above average movement. It wasn’t much of a strikeout pitch, and he gave up 5 home runs, but held hitters to a .244 AVG.

Bridwell has a pretty deadly 12-6 curve. 35% K rate, .165 BAA, 18.7% whiff rate, and 47.3% out of zone swings. Those are just some nasty numbers and right up there with some of the best curveballs in the game.

As far as cutters go, Bridwell has a pretty good one - especially against righties who barely hit the pitch to the tune o fa 0.099 AVG. Lefties don’t love the pitch either but hit it a little better at .237.

Bridwell rarely throws his changeup against righties, instead opting to use it heavily on lefties who see if fade down and away. His changeup is hard to make good contact on and he gives up his lowest overall ISO with a mere .125 and his highest out of zone swings at 34.5%.

What to expect in 2018

Bridwell has options, but I’m not sure I see an scenario where he’s not on the 25 man roster to open the season. He’s healthy, he can throw a lot of innings, and he was very dependable in 2017. Steam predicts Bridwell will toss 121 innings (same last last year), with a 6.1 K/9 rate and a 5.16 FIP with a 1.0 WAR. Essentially, they are predicting his stats will catch up with his peripherals this year. While that’s possible, Bridwell has some raw stuff to be a very effective part of the rotation - and top all of those predictions.

Nick Tropeano

Age: 27 Throws: R
Debut: September 10, 2014
Innings Pitched (MLB): 127.2

Pitch Repetoire: Fastball, Splitter, Slider, Changeup

Summary

Nick Tropeano hasn’t pitched in a big league game since July 18th, 2016. He had himself a promising career going before his injury. But, he is still only 27, and by all accounts his recovery from UCL surgery went well and he is on track to be fully healthy and ready to go for spring training.

In Tropeano’s last season, he started 13 games and in 6 of those received 2 runs or less of support - yet he still had a 7-7 record, and 3.81 ERA. However, other troublesome numbers were his 5.27 FIP and 1.48 WHIP.

As you can see below, Tropeano relies heavily on his fastball and has steadily increased the use of his splitter since he introduced it during the 2014 season.

Pitch Details

Tropeano’s fastball has pretty average velocity and was hit hard to a .357 AVG and an extremely low 3.9% whiff rate. It’s also rather flyball prone and 44%. In short, his fastball is far from a weapon, but it’s needed to help set up his off speed/breaking stuff.

Speaking of weapons, Tropeano’s slider is an effective one with a career BAA of only .163 and BABIP of .237. This pitch also brought him a lowly 10.6% line drive rate and 51.1% groundball rate in 2016. As if all that is not enough, hitters whiffed at a 24.4% clip and swung at out of the zone pitches nearly 41% of the time.

Like his fastball, Tropeano’s changeup isn’t super effective, but it did bring a 15% whiff rate in 2016. He’ll have to be smarter with his changeup that gave up a .366 AVG and 4 home runs in 2016.

Tropeano wasn’t even throwing a splitter when he first debuted. Fast forward to 2016 and he was throwing it nearly 6% of the time with amazing results. With 92 career splitters thrown, Tropeano has a .133 BAA and 43% K rate. He only has thrown it in the zone 20% of the time yet hasn’t issued a single walk or given up a home run.

What to expect in 2018

Tropeano should come out of the gate strong and compete for a starting role. However, his most career innings pitch was only 68 in 2016 so I wouldn’t expect the Angels to push him too hard. Steamer predicts 73 innings with a 4.58 FIP and 0.7 WAR. Those numbers seem pretty reasonable but 73 innings could be short if he has a good season. Tropeano has options left, so the Angels could stash him in AAA to start the season, especially to get him comfortable being back on the mound after surgery.

Troy Scribner

Age: 26 Throws: R
Debut: July 29, 2017
Innings Pitched (MLB): 23.2

Pitch Repetoire: Fastball, Cutter, Curveball, Changeup

Summary

Did Troy Scribner have a good debut in 2017? Sure, it went okay for him, I suppose. Scribner only threw 23.2 innings and was used more out of the pen than as a starter which he did only 4 times. Most of his numbers are a small sample size so take these with a grain of salt.

Scribner had a pretty low 6.8 K/9, a 7.00 FIP, and lowly 24.6% ground ball rate. The long ball bit him - hard - and he gave up 7 of them in his 23 innings. Ouch. Aside from his curve, the rest of Scribner’s pitches came in with a higher than average fly ball rate.

Pitch Details

Scribner’s fastball comes in a below average speed. He can hit 91 but averages around 88 on his “heater”. For a guy that is know for his control - Scribner walked 9 batters last year with his fastball, but did have a modest 15% K rate.

He only threw 66 cutters, but Scribner didn’t allowed a single hit against this pitch. His cutter has some nice action on it, including a bit of sink, but he allowed a 62% fly ball rate on it as well.

Scribner’s changeup has some nice horizontal movement and an impressive 17% whiff rate. It also generates the most out of zone swings for him at a 37.9% rate. With an average speed around 78, it comes in about 10 MPH less than his fastball.

Scribner has a nice slow 12-6 curve and it can be pretty to watch. This pitch comes in as slow as 63 MPH, making it almost eephus like. He held hitters to a .077 AVG with his curve, a 35.7% K rate, and a ridiculous 75% ground ball rate.

What to expect in 2018

Given the plethora of pitches fighting for a spot out of spring training, I’d be surprised if Scribner doesn’t end up in Salt Lake to start the season. Steamer is not optimistic about how much time he’ll spend in the big leagues and have him at 19 IP with a 5.02 WHIP and 0 WAR. Much of this is up in the air and if the current rotation stays healthy, Scribner probably will server mostly as depth and possibly as a bullpen piece.