27-year old righty reliever A.J. Achter was a long shot to win a spot in the Angels’ bullpen this spring, but he has been very, very impressive so far. He has pitched in 8 games (0 starts) for the Los Angeles Angels so far in spring training and he is 0-1 with 1 save, a 1.00 ERA and a 0.56 WHIP. He has only given up 4 hits and 1 walk in 9 innings so far this spring, while whiffing 8 batters. Achter has pitched in 18 games (0 starts) in his first two years in the show and he is 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
24-year old lefty Tyler Skaggs and 35-year old lefty C.J. Wilson won’t be ready to be in the Los Angeles Angels’ starting rotation when the 2016 season opens. Skaggs could return as early as late April, as he continues to return from Tommy John surgery, which wiped out the entire 2014 season for him. Skaggs pitched in 18 games (all starts) for the Angels in 2014 and he was 5-5 with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Wilson will be out indefinitely due to shoulder issues. Wilson pitched in 21 games (all starts) for the Los Angeles Angels last year and he was 8-8 with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Wilson has now pitched in 119 games (all starts) in his first four years with the Angels and he is 51-35 with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Wilson was an American League All-Star for the Angels in 2012.
Most of the starting pitchers of the Los Angeles Angels don’t have much experience as hitters so far in their careers, so they will be likely at a disadvantage when playing in National League Parks this year. Here is a look at how the starting pitchers of the Angels have hit so far in their careers:
Jered Weaver, righty swinger – Weaver was 0 for 2 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) last year. He is now 4 for 36 (.111 avg, .269 OPS) with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI so far in his career.
Garrett Richards, righty swinger – Richards was 0 for 11 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) last year. He is now 0 for 13 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) so far in his career.
C.J. Wilson, lefty swinger – Wilson was 2 for 6 (.333 avg, .667 OPS) last year. Wilson is now 4 for 29 (.138 avg, .426 OPS) with 3 runs scored so far in his career.
Hector Santiago, righty swinger – Santiago was 1 for 5 (.200 avg, .400 OPS) last year. He is now 2 for 13 (.154 avg, .308 OPS) so far in his career.
Andrew Heaney, lefty swinger – Heaney was 0 for 5 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) last year. He is now 1 for 13 (.077 avg, .154 OPS) so far in his career.
Matt Shoemaker, righty swinger – Shoemaker was 0 for 1 (.000 avg, .500 OPS) last year. He is now 0 for 2 (.000 avg, .333 OPS) so far in his career.
Nick Tropeano, righty swinger – Tropeano didn’t bat last year in the show. He is now 0 for 1 (.000 avg, .500 OPS) so far in his career.
Tyler Skaggs, lefty swinger – Skaggs didn’t bat or pitch in the show last year. He is 2 for 20 (.100 avg, .200 OPS) with 1 RBI so far in his career.
The Los Angeles Angels have a very weak bench as far as pinch hitting goes. It could hurt them when they play in National League ballparks in 2016. Here is a look at show the Angels’ bench players have done as pinch hitters so far in their careers:
Geovany Soto, righty swinger – Soto is 6 for 27 (.222 avg, .734 OPS) with 1 run scored, 1 homer and 5 RBIs.
Ji-Man Choi, switch-hitter – He has yet to play in the show.
Cliff Pennington, switch-hitter – Pennington has the best track record of this bunch as a pinch hitter. He is 18 of 67 (.269 avg, .758 OPS) with 13 runs scored, 2 homers, 5 RBIs and 2 stolen bases.
Jefry Marte, righty swinger – Marte is 0 for 7 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) with 1 run scored.
Kaleb Cowart, switch-hitter – Cowart has yet to pinch hit in his career so far.
Kyle Kubitza, lefty swinger – Kubitza is 0 for 2 (.000 avg, .333 OPS) as a pinch hitter.
Craig Gentry, righty swinger – Gentry is 13 of 59 (.220 avg, .612 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 0 homers, 7 RBIs and 3 stolen bases.
Daniel Nava, switch-hitter – Nava is only 7 of 46 (.152 avg, .424 OPS) with 7 runs scored, 0 homers and 7 RBIs.
Quintin Berry, lefty swinger – Berry is 2 for 8 (.250 avg, .650 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and 1 stolen base.
Rafael Ortega, lefty swinger – Ortega is 0 for 1 (.000 avg, .000 OPS) as a pinch hitter.
26-year old lefty reliever Rob Rasmussen has retired from the Los Angeles Angels and baseball. He pitched in 4 games (0 starts) this spring for the Angels and he was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. He pitched in 30 games (0 starts) in his two years in the show and he was 2-1 with a 7.09 ERA and a 1.84 WHIP. This is not much of a loss for the Angels moving forward.
26-year old righty swinging C.J. Cron will probably be in the starting lineup every day at either 1B or DH for the Los Angeles Angels in 2016. He played in 113 games for the Angels last year and he was 99 of 378 (.262 avg, .739 OPS) with 37 runs scored, 16 homers, 51 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Cron has now played in 192 games in his first two years with the Angels and he is 161 of 620 (.260 avg, .739 OPS) with 65 runs scored, 27 homers, 88 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Cron hits equally well against both lefty and righty pitchers, so there is no need to platoon him. I look for Cron to put up 25-30 homers for the Angels with a lot of RBIs in 2016.
The Los Angeles Angels have signed 33-year old righty reliever Josh Roenicke to a minor league deal. Roenicke pitched in 25 games (23 starts) in AAA-ball for the Brewers last year and he was 7-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP. He last pitched in the show back in 2013 with the Minnesota Twins. Roenicke has pitched in 190 games (0 starts) in his first six years in the show and he is 8-3 with 2 saves, a 4.17 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. Roenicke will likely start the 2016 season in AAA-ball for the Angels.
When Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia unveiled his plan to bat 33-year old righty swinging 3B Yunel Escobar leadoff in 2016, I was a little skeptical. Escobar played in 139 games for the Nationals last year and he was 168 of 535 (.314 avg, .790 OPS) with 75 runs scored, 9 homers, 56 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He has scored 75 or more runs only 3 times in his first 9 years in the show. But in digging deeper stat wise during Escobar’s career, he has been a good leadoff hitter. When batting leadoff in game, which he has done 246 (242 starts) times so far in his career, he is 288 of 993 (.290 avg, .767 OPS) with 142 runs scored, 22 homers, 90 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. In those 242 starts, Escobar is 79 for 222 (.356 avg, .923 OPS) with 7 homers in his first at bat of the game! When leading off an inning in his career, he is 326 of 1,121 (.291 avg, .744 OPS) with 22 homers! It looks like leading off Escobar might just pay off in spades for the Los Angeles Angels.
33-year old righty starting pitcher Jered Weaver is starting the downside of his career. I watched him pitch a spring training game last week and he could barely keep his fastball over 80 mph. One thing he does have going for him is the deception in his delivery, but it’s hard to see him excelling with smoke and mirrors. He pitched in 26 games (all starts) for the Los Angeles Angels last year and he was 7-12 with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. 2015 was the first season of Weaver’s 10-year career that he did not win at least 11 games for the Angels. He is a three time All-Star and he did lead the American League in wins in both 2012 and 2014…..which wasn’t that long ago. He has now pitched in 291 games (all starts) in his first 10 years with the Angels and he is 138-81 with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
The Los Angeles Angels dealt starting pitchers Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis over the winter to the Atlanta Braves for shortstop Andrelton Simmons. That has moved 24-year old lefty starting pitcher Nate Smith up the prospect rankings for the Angels, as he is currently their #3 prospect according to Baseball America. Smith pitched in 24 games (all starts) in AA+AAA-ball last year for the Angels and he is 10-8 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Smith has now pitched in 60 games (54 starts) in his first three years in the minors and he is 23-16 with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Smith might be the first starting pitcher called up this year by the Angels if the need arises.