Los Angeles Angels

Angels should aggressively pursue starting pitching

It’s been a modest drought since the Angels reached the playoffs, and this could be their time to aggressively add starting pitching for a push towards October.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Angels find themselves with a 50-49 record and 6.5 games back behind the second Wild Card spot. They are among six teams fighting for the two Wild Card spots, as they’ve lost reach of catching the Houston Astros, who lead the American League West with a record of 62-37.

Although the Angels are 6.5 games back from playoff contention, their roster fills itself out quite nicely. Their lineup is solid with a sturdy core of Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons and Albert Pujols. Their bullpen has exceeded expectations of many, with Hansel Robles and Ty Buttrey locking down the eight and ninth innings. Both Robles and Buttrey find themselves with ERAs below 3.0 and a K/9 of 9.0 or higher.

The Angels’ issue once again falls on the shoulders of the starting pitching. They haven’t had a front-line starter since the prime of Jared Weaver’s career. General manager Billy Eppler experimented this offseason with some low-end starters looking to revitalize their careers and added depth to the rotation with the additions of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. Neither one worked out for the Angels whatsoever, as they got nearly zero production after spending $20 million on the two starters.

With a lineup that ranks inside the top 10 in hitting and a nice one-two punch in the back-end of the bullpen, now is the time for the Angels to go after starting pitching before the trade deadline.

Ohtani will return to the mound in 2020, but until then the rotation is constructed with the arms of Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, Felix Pena and Jamie Barria.

The trade market this summer features a multitude of options, with guys like Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman, Mathew Boyd, Robbie Ray, Mike Minor and Trevor Bauer among them. The Angels won’t be trading the farm this summer for some of the high-priced arms (Bumgarner and Bauer) but will likely take a look at some of the lower-serviceable pitchers. Billy Eppler told Jeff Flecther of the Orange County Register that his focus is leaning heavily on guys with control after this season and beyond.

In terms of trading pieces the Angels could look to move on from, they really don’t have much beyond digging into the farm system that Eppler has built up from scratch. Khole Calhoun is a name that has been brought up before as a potential trade candidate, and with Jo Adell (the Angels’ top prospect) moving his way up the system, it could be time for Calhoun’s departure.

With the trade deadline just a week and a half away, teams should start movement in the coming days. Expect the Angels, who are 5-3 since the All-Star Break to get a taste of the available options on the current market.

Next: MLB Power Rankings: Each team’s deadline plans

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