We might not know exactly when opening day will be in 2020, but Sunday’s transaction is a strong indication that left-hander Ryan Buchter will be included on the Angels’ initial roster.
The Angels selected Buchter to the 40-man roster on Sunday, and to make room pitcher Taylor Cole was designated for assignment.
Buchter had a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last four seasons, a 2.87 ERA with the Padres, Royals, and A’s, but also a 4.01 FIP during that time. Buchter, 33, pitched five scoreless innings in his five Cactus League appearances as a non-roster invitee this spring, allowing three hits and three walks.
He has been most effective against left-handed batters in his career, holding them to .187/.260/.336 with a 29.4-percent strikeout rate. Buchter has held his own against righties, who hit .210/.319/.382 against him with a 24.6-percent K rate in his career, but in the last two seasons it’s .280/.395/.480 and 18.8 percent.
It will be interesting especially for left-handers like Buchter this year with the new rule requiring relief pitchers to face at least three batters unless the inning ends or they get injured. In his last two seasons in Oakland, Buchter faced two or fewer batters in 42 of his 118 appearances (34.7 percent), but 18 of those outings saw Buchter finish out an inning, which would be allowed under the new rule.
For what it’s worth, Buchter also has two option years remaining, having used an option year back in 2014. So it’s not a guarantee he’ll be on the Angels’ opening day roster. But teams rarely make this kind of move for a player they don’t intend to use.
Cole was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on March 15. Today’s transaction removes the 30-year-old right-hander off the 40-man roster. The next steps for him could include a trade, being placed on waivers, or his release. Should Cole clear waivers, he would have the right to refuse outright assignment to the minors, since he has already been outrighted in his career.