Will the Angels Actually Have Pitching Depth?

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Updated: February 28, 2017

Everyone knows the struggles the Angels had in their pitching staff; there’s no need to get into great detail. Suffice it to say, the Angels needed help in the rotation. Well, after some strong starts for prospective starters this season, the Angels may actually have some enviable pitching depth. Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris were both added on minor league deals, and both had solid starts this weekend. J.C. Ramirez is being stretched out and tested as a starter after being in our bullpen last season, and he put together a solid debut. Nate Smith is arguably our top pitching prospect, and he also pitched well, putting up two scoreless innings. All of those things, although potentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things, (it is still just Spring Training, after all,) could be the start of something special in Anaheim.

The important thing for the Halos is having solid pitching depth; last year, the Halos were forced to turn to players like Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin, and Brett Oberholtzer for starts, and the results were predictably depressing. The Angels had no depth in their staff, neither in the rotation nor the bullpen, and it showed. Now, most teams are going to lack the depth to overcome injuries to seven or eight pitchers projected to make an impact, but the truth is that they lacked the depth to cover for three or four injuries, and the rest just added to what was already a pretty bleak situation. Looking at what the Angels could potentially have going forward is a nice change for the Halos and their fans, and should raise hopes a bit.

All of that is nice and everything, but the Angels have yet to see what they’ve got in players returning from injury like Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Huston Street, and Cam Bedrosian, and none of their projected starting five have pitched yet. I like Petit and Norris for what they can bring to a team as much as the next guy, but if those guys are your best pitchers, you’re in trouble. The Angels aren’t going anywhere if guys like Richards, Skaggs, Shoemaker, Nolasco, Jesse Chavez, and Alex Meyer are not healthy and pitching well, in whatever role they may fill. If those guys are all healthy and pitching well, though, then the Angels actually have the makings of some decent pitching depth.

A top five of Richards, Shoemaker, Skaggs, Nolasco, and Chavez is not a bad rotation, if they all pitch to their potential. That leaves guys like Meyer, Petit, Norris, Ramirez, Smith, Manny Banuelos, and Vicente Campos to bolster your bullpen or add to your organizational depth in the minors, something we obviously now know you can’t have too much of. Norris,Petit, and Chavez, in particular, can be so effective out of your bullpen that even if they don’t make the starting five they’re still capable of filling an extremely important role on your team and giving you high-leverage, quality innings. Yes, innings, plural, meaning more than one at a time, something that is becoming more important to a bullpen.

The Angels and GM Billy Eppler have done a fantastic job supplementing this pitching staff with cheap, and in some cases young, players with potential to be solid contributors from multiple roles or levels of the organization. That being said, if the top guys don’t bounce back, stay healthy, and produce it will mean very little for the Halos this season. Either way, the team has put itself in a good position to bounce back and be competitive, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

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