Angels on the precipice of a precarious pitching position

Eventually, baseball will be back, then we will all have to reacquaint ourselves with the delicate starting pitching balance the Angels have struck for 2022. Assuming the rotation is mostly built, let’s take a look at why this position is questionable, and why the Angels could be teetering on the edge.

First, what does it take to get through a season in terms of starting rotation? In 2021, the A’s rotation threw the most innings, logging 894. The fewest innings by a starting rotation clocked in at 735.1 and belonged to the 110-loss Baltimore Orioles. The correlation between starter innings and team record is real, but of course there are outliers (ahem, Tampa Bay Rays). The point is that unless you are the Tampa Bay Rays, you are going to need your starters to throw some innings. Preferably quality innings. Last season, the average number of innings thrown by starting rotations was 813 (the Angels logged 776). How do the Angels get there in 2022?

ZiPS forecast

Taking both ZiPS and Fangraphs Depth Charts predictions, we can average out the two and get something like this:

Pitcher2022 Innings Est.Depth Chart IPZiPS IP2021 MLB IP2020 MLB IP
Shohei Ohtani138.51651121301.2
Noah Syndergaard151.5 16314020
Patrick Sandoval
123.5 1471008736
José Suarez
120 131109986
Michael Lorenzen
62 71532933
Reid Detmers89 9088208
Jaime Barría91.5701135632
Griffin Canning54.519906456
Totals830.5

Adding up all these numbers from these 8 guys, gets you to the number you need out of our starters. That’s IF you buy into all those numbers.

I can live with most of these predictions. For instance, Shohei Ohtani could throw a few more innings and land close to the 140 inning mark. There are, however, big question marks starting with Noah Syndergaard. Having thrown only about 5 total innings (minor and major league) over the past two seasons, it may be hard to see him go much past 120. Very few pitchers return from TJ surgery to throw 150 innings.

Patrick Sandoval increasing his workload by 30% also seems a bit of a stretch, but perhaps possible. Let’s go with 115 for him which seems like a fairer number. I can live with the other predictions, though Detmers could also be a stretch. Given these few adjustments, you may get 780-790 innings out of these 8 starters. Is that enough? It seems borderline at best without a bullpen that can throw heavy innings all season long.

Additionally, you are looking at some rookies and unproven talent to help fill the holes, including a few guys like Jhonathan Diaz and Janson Junk.

Below, we see the starting rotation as assumed by Roster Resource:

Does that inspire confidence? Perhaps. If ALL goes perfect with Ohtani, Thor, Sandoval, and Suarez continuing to throw well, then we may be looking at a top 10 rotation. But the reality is you have a #2 and #3 pitcher and perhaps the rest are #5 or #6 guys.

Shoehei Ohtani could very likely repeat his 2021 MVP performance so there is not too much worry there other than him staying healthy on both sides. Thor? Well, he certainly has the pedigree, but what will we see from him? The ceiling is high but he is definitely a bit of an unknown.

Patrick Sandoval is our #3 and while he came into his own a bit last season, he’s a #5 on a first place team, or perhaps a #4. Had the Angels went out and signed a healthy front line starter, Ohtani, Thor, and Sandoval sure look at lot better as #2, #3, #4. Instead, Michael Lorenzen potentially slots in at #4 and the dude has thrown only 62 big league innings the past two seasons. Yikes! You can see the rotation falls apart fairly quickly after Ohtani, Thor, and probably Sandoval.

Jose Suarez and Jaime Barria are defintely ones to watch as well, but again, we don’t know what we are going to get here. I mean, we have a better idea who Barria is after the past 4 seasons (a 4.5-5ish ERA guy), but who is Suarez? Like Sandoval, he seemed to come into his own in 2021 but the question will be, can he repeat that or even improve upon it?

In summary, it’s a precarious positions for Perry’s Angels. In lieu of signing a top/front-end starter (which seems unlikely at this point), the Angels are on the edge of another average season and the potentially top 15 rotation that likely falls to 20 with a single injury that lasts more than a few weeks. There is little depth at the top and the bottom depth brings a whole slew of #6+ guys to fill in the holes.

Should we excited? Hell yes, Angels baseball will be back soon! But let’s temper our expectations on this rotation. One small thing that upsets this delicate balance could knock the Angels right back to a .500 team again (or worse).

35 Comments
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FungoAle
Super Member
6 months ago

Good article. Uninspiring to say the least. Perry has been getting a free pass in his first year but the gloves should come off.

He signs Thor and Lorenzen as starters. One off a major arm injury (w/2022 innings limit) and the other pitcher, not stretched out in 7 years. Cute, sexy…way to go PTP. These guys are void of recent successes but they do fit the MO of 1-yr contracts. Plus we lost a QO for a high-risk pitcher.

Bullen still lacks proven middle relievers and a strong 8-inning guy. He needs to invest more and more here due to the fact Angel starters do not go deep in games and the manager has a short leash. Within a month, we will cursing at the TV.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  FungoAle

Yup. I’m sure Perry’s been enjoying that free pass everyone’s been giving him that first year. Never have I seen a pass so free. I was actually worried that if the folks on CtPG were any more patient their blood pressure may drop so low they lapse into a comma and die. But now I know it’ll be alright cause people around here may get a little critical of the guy.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

I am impressed this post shows the name Packy Naughten, got 22 comments, and none of them are some guy sputtering and blowing up because Packy Naughten is still alive and still a pitcher.

I don’t know if they’ll pull it off, but I assume the Angels will try to get more arms. They didn’t seem to be making noises like they were done when the lock out happened. We were all just whining about not really wanting Scherzer while demanding we sign someone like Scherzer… and also overpay for Stroman…. if we’re committed to winning…. while resigning Raisel doesn’t stir our floppy little needles and Lorenzen will suck because 90% of us just realized he exists and looked him up that week and determined it to be so.

And then the lock out kicked off.

There are still arms out there. Trouble is there are also like 28 teams that are “targeting pitching” after the lock out. I hope they sign ex-Cardinal Kim.

h27kim
Trusted Member
6 months ago

I thought Cardinal Kim passed away years ago?

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  h27kim

No. That was Ladybird Johnson. Also, Ladybug Transistor.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  h27kim

comment image

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

This is super really well put together! Good job!

ihearhowie3.0
Super Member
6 months ago

Kinda curious if GMs have deals made and ready to execute as soon as the lockout is lifted the way the NBA clearly negotiates stuff before free agency actually is allowed to start.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  ihearhowie3.0

If you look at the magnitude of remaining Major League Free Agents (around 200) , remaining Minor League free agents (around 400) and arbitration eligible players waiting on the side line right now (197 arbitration eligible players were tendered contracts) when the shit show on Jupiter is finally over, it will be complete bedlam .I think there are already ML deals in place that are waiting to be announced and that doesn’t even include trades that may have been previously consummated but not announced.

Hold onto your hats kids, we are in for a wild ride.

Jim Atkins
Super Member
6 months ago

Well, once again we are back to a paper-thin pitching staff with zero margin for error. That’s ok, we are all used to this by now. Nice to see you writing again, Jessica!

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Atkins

Whats not ok is when you have a paper thin pitching staff when every pitcher will be susceptible to injury due to a truncated spring training after a prolonged lockout. Good luck holding this rotation together all season.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  Cowboy26

The drugs will help.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago

Us buttercupped fans or the injured player?

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  Cowboy26

Everyone.

Eric_in_Portland
Legend
6 months ago

I have almost zero confidence in Lorenzen. I have to squint to get past his 5.59 ERA last season.

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
7 months ago

When things come back to almost normal there could still be a trade or FA signing or two that provide some relief. (lol). But seriously this pitching staff is not done being built. There is no way that we go into the season with this staff that we have now. Who would think that this staff can win 81 games just to break even? It won’t happen.

It is the injury factor that every year kicks our best laid plans into the dirt.

Lightning in a bottle needs to happen and it just might with one big trade.

steelgolf
Super Member
7 months ago

I think Ohtani goes at least 145 innings, possibly 150. I also think Lorenzen should move to #6 and bump Suarez and Barria up to 4 and 5. I’m not sold on Lorenzen being a durable starter who can go 6 or 7 innings throughout the season. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
7 months ago
Reply to  steelgolf

Lorenzen is very interesting. No record of being a starter but a good bullpen arm. If he fails as a starter we’d need Canning or Detmers to step up. Not unrealistic and our bullpen would be strong.

steelgolf
Super Member
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Yep, I’m happy with him as a bullpen arm, just wary of him making the jump to starter and lasting the full season (though the season now looks to be shortened).

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  steelgolf

100% agreed.

I’m glad we’re giving him a chance, but that leash needs to be short. And a multi inning guy is sorely needed here.

matthiasstephan
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

This is still a vast improvement, if Canning is our 6/7 option in case a starter falters, rather than penciled in at 2 or 3 and being trusted to carry the rotation.

I agree with those suggesting we aren’t done, but even so I feel we are in a better position than we have been.

h27kim
Trusted Member
7 months ago
Reply to  steelgolf

I worry about Ohtani’s pitching workload and his effectiveness as a hitter. I have the notion that we should not expect more than 140 innings if we get 400-500 abs from him. I’ll be happy to be proven otherwise, though.

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  h27kim

This is where a month or so of lost games might actually help us.

Let’s say we get down to 120-130 games. That’s pretty much 20 starts per slot. I like the odds of Thor and Ohtani holding up for 20 a ton more than I do 30.

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Yep but there may be no room for 6-14 start in a short 120 game season.

h27kim
Trusted Member
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Yes. We almost certainly won’t get “full season’s” worth of innings from any of our top 3 (or, for that matter, anyone in the rotation), for good and legit reasons. If we are not, then a short season would make them count. Between Ohtani, Syndergaard, and Sandoval, I think we will get quality innings–just not as many as we’d like.

h27kim
Trusted Member
7 months ago

I think this is exactly right:. Without adding an arm that can go 170-210 innings reliably while putting up above average numbers, we are not going to be contending. It’s probably not very realistic that our current top 3 can put up the innings. The back end has some interesting but flawed arms that probably won’t deliver quality innings generally. The best hope is that the latter can be somehow used to deliver innings out of the pen, but I don’t think anyone other than TB can pull it off for long (and TB can do this b/c they have oodles of interesting arms in their system that they can mix and match…)

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend
Reply to  h27kim

Not picking on you, but I do love when ever I see anybody on any of the boards I read state that a team needs a 200 inning guy in their rotation. There were seven of them last year…. and one of them had 200.2 innings. There were more teams in the play offs than there were 200 inning pitchers.

I’d thank my lucky stars for 160-70.

h27kim
Trusted Member
6 months ago

I did say 170-210 for that reason. I do think 160+ is a reasonable expectation for a top starter, and an “ace” should be able to put up 170+ innings, though.

matthiasstephan
Super Member
6 months ago
Reply to  h27kim

Is ‘ace’ defined by how many innings they pitch, or the quality of those innings? (I tend to think of it being the latter – and we do need ‘innings eaters’ to come in, provide the team a chance to compete. That said, the days of the Nolan Ryan type are gone (we would be lucky to have two 8-7 4.5 ERA guys).

h27kim
Trusted Member
6 months ago

I think it’s both: an “ace” needs to be both good and “available,” ie need to be able to deliver innings when needed. I think (nowadays) someone who can deliver above average performance over 180 innings a (full) season is an “ace.”

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
7 months ago

This is exactly why my off season plan hinged on a couple of mult inning relievers and why losing C Rod hurts.

Pitchers in general are going fewer innings nowadays, Angels pitchers even more so.

I like Sandoval and Suarez and think 120 is about right for them. I think if the Angels are being honest, they’ll take 130 from Thor and Ohtani if that means they are healthy all year. That’s only 500 innings, though.

I’m good on innings 1-5 most nights and think we have a great tandem for 8 and 9 in Loup and Iglesias. Navigating innings 6 and 7 will make or break us.

max
Trusted Member
max
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Is Rodriguez gone? I remember the back break. Is he not coming back this season.?

Cowboy26
Legend
6 months ago
Reply to  max

PTP indicated that CRod wont be ready for opening day and wouldn’t give a time line on his availability . So I’m not sure what his 2022 status is.

max
Trusted Member
max
6 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

thanks

MarineLayer
Super Member
7 months ago

Well done. This shows me how Minasian failed again without another substantial move after the lockout is lifted.