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How Much Have The Angels Improved Their Pitching?

An over simplified way of looking at the Angels pitching changes

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

In 2019 the Angels pitching was brutal by all metrics. ERA, ERA+, WAR, you name it and the Angels were at the bottom of the rankings. For this exercise I’m going to use some really basic ones: runs allowed and innings.

Last year the Angels allowed 868 runs, 99 more than they scored. In theory, shaving off 99 runs from that total would have netted the Angels a .500 season. But to reach the promised land, the Angels need to shave off quite a bit more.

The Tampa Bay Rays allowed 656, Oakland 680. Those were the Wild Cards. Ironically, the playoff team that gave up the most runs was Minnesota with 754, and they won what was considered to be a pretty weak AL Central. The Yanks gave up 739, but pummeled opponents with 943 runs scored.

Perhaps a number close to 700 gets the Angels within range of October baseball. That would require cutting an average of one full run from every single game. Let’s see if they’ve done enough.

Who Is Out? Innings Pitched Earned Runs WAR

Trevor Cahill 102.1 68 -0.3

Matt Harvey 59.2 47 -0.7

Chris Stratton 29.1 28 -0.2 (includes time with Pittsburgh)

Jake Jewell 26.1 20 -0.3

Cody Allen 23 16 -0.2

Nick Tropeano 13.2 15 -0.5

Miguel Del Pozo 9.1 11 -0..5

Sub Total: 263.2 Innings 205 Runs Allowed

Who has been pushed out of the rotation?

Jose Suarez 81 64 -1.2

Jaime Barria 82.2 59 -0.6

Dillon Peters 72 43 -0.1

Sub Total: 235.2 Innings 166 Runs Allowed

Also needs to be considered:

Tyler Skaggs 79.2 38 0.9

Totals: 579 Innings 409 Runs Allowed

Overall 47% of the runs the Angels allowed were by pitchers who are no longer with the team or likely headed to AAA. Then there is Skaggs, whose death is sad yet having an impact on the 2020 season.

For the next part, I’m going to use 3 year averages for Teheran and Bundy as they are both relatively young and have been full time starters during that period. I’m estimating 100 innings for Ohtani at his 2018 levels. I’ll also use a 3 year average for Andriese although I think Eppler is hoping for more. For Keller, his track record is so light I’m using BB-ref’s projection for him.

Who is In? Innings Earned Runs

Matt Andriese 78 42

Dylan Bundy 168 90

Julio Teheran 180 82

Shohei Ohtani 100 38

Kyle Keller 30 15

Totals: 556 Innings 267 Runs Allowed

So that’s 142 runs shaved, but also 23 missing innings. So, let’s say about 130 runs over the same number of innings. That gets the Angels to about 738 runs allowed and a slightly positive run differential.

Whether that number goes up or down from there gets tricky.

Last year Taylor Cole gave up 34 runs in just 51.2 innings pitched. Does either Andrew Heaney or Griffin Canning step up and go 140 innings and eliminate these? Maybe each can add 20 innings. That would cut those 34 runs down to the high teens saving another 15 runs, getting the Angels down to 720ish runs allowed.

Felix Pena threw a very mediocre 96.1 innings last year. Who takes those? My hunch is that Patrick Sandoval could put up a 4.58 ERA with a 99 ERA+ or something similar but that is just a hunch.

And the increased workload from the starting rotation should keep the bullpen fresher and performing better. Ty Buttrey was aces until fatigue set in last year, for example. Maybe this saves a handful more.

As it stands right now, the Angels appear to have improved considerably, but probably not enough to hit the 700 runs allowed mark as currently constructed.

Of course, we could see a notable step forward in the performance of a youngster or two on the staff. Canning, Sandoval, Suarez all have untapped upside. New pitching coach Mickey Callaway has a great track record of tapping into upside.

Bundy getting out of the bandboxes in the AL East could help him. Then again, Teheran has always out performed his metrics and is moving to a league with a DH. There are lots of variables.

But overall it still feels a bit short. At least 30 runs or so. Add a Jon Gray to the top of this rotation, and there’s a legitimate shot to shave 175+ runs from 2019 to 2020 and really give the Angels a shot at October baseball. Plus a chance to win once they got there.

Perhaps even Matthew Boyd, especially if his bottom line results come in line with his metrics.

Vegas has the Angels over/under at 85.5 wins. That seems about right with our expected run differential. What do you think?