Nick Tropeano on the DL…Now What?

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Updated: June 7, 2016

After Nick Tropeano was placed on the Disabled List June 4th due to shoulder tightness, he joined four other Angels pitchers already on the DL with various injuries.  It has gotten to the point where Angels fans are holding their breath every time a Halo takes the mound. Whether it be a starter, middle reliever, or closer, no Angels pitcher seems safe from the injury bug.  

According to Orange County Register writer Jeff Fletcher, when the Angels take the field at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, David Huff will be the Halo pitcher on the mound.  He temporarily takes Tropeano’s spot in the rotation after Matt Shoemaker went for the Angels on Monday.  Huff will be the ninth different starter this year for the Angels, the same total they used for the entire 2015 season.  But that number may quickly reach ten when Tim Lincecum joins the Angels after one or two more minor league starts.  Lincecum is returning from hip surgery so all eyes will be on him to stay healthy, but the luck the Angels have had with pitchers this year, they should prepare for the worst.

Even with the hits the pitching staff have taken, the Angels have been able to keep their head above water, well almost above water with a 26-31 record.  Strong efforts from Jered Weaver (5-4), Hector Santiago (3-2), Nick Tropeano (3-2), before his injury, and newcomer Jhoulys Chacin (1-1) have currently kept the Angels out of the American League West cellar (1 game ahead of Oakland after the Angels loss on Monday).  The question now is how many more injuries can the pitching staff endure?

Although the Angels have already brought up Huff and signed Tim Lincecum, they could also bring up another pitcher from the minors or trade for another arm to round out their ailing pitching staff.

Bring up Another Pitcher from the Minors

As mentioned before, the Angels called up David Huff from AAA Salt Lake to start Tuesday’s game.  Huff has pitched in the majors for seven seasons so putting him on the mound is not as much of a risk as placing a rookie out there. Another name that has been mentioned is left handed pitcher Nate Smith.  While the current Salt Lake City pitcher doesn’t have any major league experience, he has been solid since the Angels selected him in the eighth round three years ago by putting up a 26-18 record with a 1.20 WHIP.  According to MLB.com, Smith is the #3 ranked prospect in the organization and they predicted him to make his major league debut is 2016.  But would it be worth it to risk destroying Smith’s confidence by bringing him up too early with the possibility of being shelled for a few starts and getting sent back to the minors?

Here is an overview of Nate Smith courtesy of MLB.com:

Nate Smith

After Smith, the Angels do not have any major league ready pitchers in their farm system.  In fact, they have zero overall prospects, let alone pitchers, in the Top 100.

Trade for Another Arm

After staying put in the off season, claiming that their starting pitching staff was eight men deep, the Angels now find themselves in need of a starter who can take either Tropeano’s spot or the spot of the next Halo pitcher to go down. Unfortunately, the Angels do not have a lot to offer when it comes to a trade.  ESPN senior writer Keith Law ranked the Angels farm system last in the majors stating “this is by far the worst farm system I’ve ever seen.”  The only way to get something back in value would be to trade something of value, such as one of our top pitchers or position players. But trading Weaver or Santiago (our two best, healthy pitchers) for another pitcher would put the Angels right back in the same situation. I also think trading Weaver would cause an uproar with many Angels fans who see him as the face of the team and a passionate warrior when he takes the mound.

Trading a bat might get back a pitcher, but who could the Angels trade?  Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are untouchable (or untradable in Albert’s case).  Someone like Kole Calhoun might look good to other teams since he is making only $3.4 million this year and won’t become a free agent until 2020.  But then who do the Angels put in right field that can hit .306/.386/.461 and is also a Gold Glove fielder?  Currently there are no players in their farm system nor a “player to be named later” thrown into a trade that could touch Kole’s abilities.

One final option is trading two or three lesser players along with a “top” prospect for a decent pitcher with the risk that he may become a free agent after the season.  This would create another rent-a-pitcher scenario leaving the Angels with even less at the end of the season than before the trade.

Right now there isn’t a great solution to the pitching problems the Angels have and it looks as if the Halos will be content to just duct tape the holes with call ups and spot starts from the bullpen.  Adding Lincecum to the rotation in a week or so should help, as long as he can stay healthy and regain at least part of the form he had when he won two Cy Young Awards.  As the August trade deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see if the Angels become sellers or stand pat hoping their pitching rotation regains the look and optimism it had on Opening Day.

 

Additional stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

 

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