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Julio Teheran and the Angels’ quest for rotation stability

Teheran activated from injured list to start Wednesday vs. Mariners

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Teheran is officially set to make his Angels debut, activated from the injured list to start Wednesday’s game against the Mariners, looking to stabilize what has been a volatile starting rotation to date.

Through 11 games, Angels relief pitchers have pitched more innings (54⅓) than the starters (46). But those totals are skewed by Shohei Ohtani recording only five total outs in his two starts. Now he’s out with a forearm strain, and isn’t expected to pitch again this season.

If you remove Ohtani’s two starts, the rest of the rotation is averaging 4.93 innings per start. That sounds bad by itself, but this is also a truncated season with a short summer camp, with everyone scrambling to get ready. MLB-wide, starting pitchers have only averaged 4.70 innings in the first two weeks of the season.

The Angels’ top three starters — Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, and Griffin Canning — have lasted at least five innings in five of their seven starts, and the last time through the rotation pitched 5⅔, six, and six innings respectively. They have a combined 2.79 ERA, with 42 strikeouts and 11 walks in 38⅔ innings.

“There’s a potential to really settle in and pitch well. This pretty much should be the end of spring training right now, or coming up on it,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “I’d like to believe you’re going to see the best out of these guys.”

Angels-Mariners lineups

Pos Angels Pos Mariners
Pos Angels Pos Mariners
SS Fletcher SS Crawford (L)
CF Trout LF Moore
3B Rendon CF Lewis
DH Upton 3B Seager (L)
1B Pujols C Nola
LF Ward DH Vogelbach (L)
RF Adell 1B White
C Stassi 2B Long (L)
2B Rengifo (S) RF Smith (L)

Teheran will add to that stability, eventually. He was late reporting to summer camp after testing positive for coronavirus, and isn’t quite built up just yet. He pitched three innings at the Angels’ alternate training site in Long Beach last Thursday. Maddon said Teheran would likely be limited to somewhere near 60 pitches on Wednesday against the Mariners.

Before this year Teheran made at least 30 starts in each of his seven major league seasons, and lasted at least five innings in 26 of 33 starts in 2019. It doesn’t sounds like much of a feat, but the Angels’ decimated pitching staff had just 88 total outings of five or more innings last year, dead last in MLB.

Dylan Bundy starts the series finale on Thursday in Seattle. Maddon said the Angels would reveal their rotation for the weekend series in Texas tomorrow as well. The question is whether they will stick with a six-man rotation or go with five starters for now, which likely means whether they use one or both of Matt Andriese or Patrick Sandoval in a starting role.

“It could be five, it could be six,” Maddon said Wednesday. “But I definitely believe we have candidates for six.”

Notes

  • Andrelton Simmons is eligible to return from the injured list Friday, but he won’t be ready by then. “I don’t see it in the real immediate future,” Maddon said. “It’s progressing, but it’s not progressing as it could have, possibly.”
  • Shohei Ohtani is out of the lineup for a second straight day, a combination of lingering soreness and a tough matchup against left-hander Marco Gonzales for Seattle, against whom he’s 0-for-10 with a walk and four strikeouts.
  • The Angels have eight right-handed batters and switch-hitter Luis Rengifo against Gonzales, including Justin Upton batting cleanup at designated hitter, and Taylor Ward in left field.
  • The corresponding roster move to activate Teheran from the injured list was optioning pitcher Kyle Keller, who allowed two runs in 2⅓ innings in his two relief appearances this season.

Game info

Time: 6:40 p.m. PT

TV: Fox Sports West, MLB Network