Los Angeles Angels: Who should start on Opening Day?

TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25: Manager Joe Maddon of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during a Spring Training game against the Cincinnati Reds on February 25, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25: Manager Joe Maddon of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during a Spring Training game against the Cincinnati Reds on February 25, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Angels’ starting rotation has plenty of question marks heading into the 2020 season, including who will start on Opening Day.

While the Los Angeles Angels got the fanbase excited by signing Anthony Rendon, the front office did not address the starting rotation like the fans were hoping for entering the offseason.

The Angels made two additions to the starting rotation by signing Julio Teheran and trading for Dylan Bundy. The team could have added former all-star Ross Stripling as well, but Arte Moreno pulled out of the reported trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The team is essentially getting an addition from Shohei Ohtani this season as well. Ohtani did not pitch at all last season so him being healthy and on the bump is an improvement from the rotation last season.

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However, we cannot be fully convinced about Ohtani’s health and his ability to balance a two-way workload for an entire year. While he is the most talented pitcher in the rotation, he is already out of the running for being the Opening Day starter, as the Angels want to make sure he is healthy and limit his innings to start the season.

That leaves Joe Maddon with a decision to make on Opening Day. Griffin Canning is also assumingly out of the running as well, as he suffered elbow pain, received an MRI and now might be unavailable to start the season, and that is the best-case scenario.

That narrows Maddon’s decision down to three pitchers from the original starting rotation: Andrew Heaney, Teheran and Bundy. We can easily narrow it down to two, as Bundy is by far the worst of the three and would have been the Los Angeles Angels’ fifth starter if the entire staff was healthy.

Teheran or Heaney — who should Joe Maddon go with?

From a pure numbers standpoint, the advantage appears to go to Teheran. Last season, with the Atlanta Braves, Teheran finished with a 3.81 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 162 strikeouts in 174 and two-thirds innings.

Heaney, on the other hand, finished 2019 with a 4.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 95 and one-third innings pitched. Heaney was marginally better in WHIP and strikeout rate, but Teheran had a better ERA and was able to stay on the field.

Both guys are healthy, so it really boils, so it may appear that Spring Training will decide who starts on Opening Day. Thus far in spring, both Teheran and Heaney have thrown two scoreless innings in their one outing each. We haven’t really made any inroads in that department.

Quite frankly, barring a complete collapse/health issues for either player, I do not think Spring Training will warrant this decision. I think the decision has already been made and Joe Maddon is simply dotting his ‘i’s and crossing his ‘t’s.

The decision is Andrew Heaney, the guy the team traded Howie Kendrick for five years ago. In an Angels’ rotation that has been shuffled and reshuffled so many times over the past five seasons, Heaney has been the one consistent arm that has stayed in the rotation.

Has he panned out like the Angels were hoping for? No, he has not. While he has shown potential and has had some great starts, at some point you kind of are who you are and for Heaney that is a guy whose ERA will float around 4.00 with a high strikeout rate.

He might not be “ace material” but he is an important part of this rotation and despite being the one lone constant in the rotation, he has not gotten a single Opening Day nod.

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It might not mean much to Heaney and it probably means more to the fans than it does the pitchers, but Maddon and the Los Angeles Angels have to do the right thing and give it to the guy that has been there and not do what Brad Ausmus did and give it to the one-year starter in Trevor Cahill.