The Los Angeles Angels were unable to land an ace this offseason but continued to improve the starting rotation by adding former Dodger, Ross Stripling.
The Los Angeles Angels were the fourth team in a blockbuster set of trades that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Verdugo to the Boston Red Sox and Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins.
The Angels fit into the trade as the Dodgers needed to free up money with the acquisition of two large salaries in Betts and Price and traded Joc Pederson and his $7.75 million salary to the Los Angeles Angels in return for Luis Rengifo and some (currently) unnamed prospects.
In with Pederson was another big-league asset, although he does not have a large salary. Knowing that the Dodgers needed to free up the money and have an abundance of starting pitching, the Angels were also able to land 2018 all-star Ross Stripling in the trade as well.
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Stripling has bounced between the starting rotation and bullpen with the Dodgers and has been fairly solid. Stripling has a career 3.51 ERA in 387 career innings and showed during his opportunities with the starting rotation that he could be an above-average starting pitcher.
His 3.07 all-star ERA is impressive but it is kind of misleading for how good Stripling was in the first half of the season. Towards the end of the year, likely due to the workload, Stripling began to falter but he had as low as a 1.52 ERA in early-June.
Entering September, where he had three bad outings to end his season, Stripling had a 2.52 ERA. It is clear that he is someone that can provide valuable innings for the Angels.
With the addition of Stripling has come the discussion of how the Angels should order the starting rotation. The team does not have a clear-cut ace or even a clear-cut order for that matter, so the discussion has created many different possibilities at Joe Maddon‘s disposal.
I am sure that Maddon will get creative with it, especially with Shohei Ohtani, but here is how I would order the Angels’ rotation.
1. Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani should start on Opening Day. While the Angels have to be precautionary with Ohtani coming off of Tommy John and manage his workload to keep him fresh, he should still be considered the team’s “ace”.
I have seen the idea of the Angels committing to only pitch Ohtani on Sundays, which is something that the team started doing in 2018 and is a creative way to balance his workload while also giving him some consistency.
There is nothing wrong with that approach, but I would worry about it throwing off the rhythm of the other guys in the order if their days get pushed back or moved up because Ohtani has to start on Sundays.
Mix in some occasional days off throughout the year to keep Ohtani fresh and things should be fine.
2. Julio Teheran
Numbers-wise, you could make the case for Ross Stripling being the better pitcher, although the sample size is much larger for Julio Teheran and that is what earns him the second spot in the rotation.
If Teheran has been anything over the last several years it is consistent. While he never quite panned out to be the frontline ace that many expected him to be, he has been nothing short of an innings eater.
Teheran ranks 12th in MLB in innings pitched over the last three seasons and is just one of four players to have started at least 30 games over the last seven seasons.
3. Ross Stripling
I thought about throwing Andrew Heaney in this spot to stagger the handiness of the rotation but the numbers speak for themselves — Ross Stripling is probably the second-most talented pitcher on the Los Angeles Angels and should be the third starter in the rotation.
4. Andrew Heaney
Andrew Heaney looks really good when he is firing on all cylinders, the problem is that does not happen often for the southpaw. At this point in his career, Heaney kind of is who he is and the promise of him developing into a top of the rotation arm is kind of gone.
But hey, it is much better to have Heaney as the fourth starter on the team than the second starter, which is where he would have been slotted to be prior to the offseason.
5. Griffin Canning
Griffin Canning showed that he does have some pretty good stuff when he has it working but experienced the common trials and tribulations of being a rookie pitcher. His 4.58 ERA was not all that bad for someone who turned 23 in May and six of his 17 starts were quality starts.
6. Dylan Bundy
Wrapping up the six-man rotation for the Los Angeles Angels should be Dylan Bundy, who was acquired via trade from the Baltimore Orioles this offseason.
Bundy has performed as good as a fourth or fifth starter throughout his career and while he has not been great, he has been rather consistent in how many innings pitched he has per season.
Having Bundy be the sixth-best starting pitcher is not bad at all and the Los Angeles Angels even have other starting options to explore, such as Patrick Sandoval. While there are no elite, cream of the crop arms in the rotation, the front office has done a nice job of building some depth.