Mike Trout. Anthony Rendon. Shohei Ohtani. The Los Angeles Angels are not lacking star power. They have perhaps the best player ever leading their team, along with one of the best third basemen in the MLB and a new-age Babe Ruth.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) February 19, 2020
The Angels have the offense to compete, and they know it. The question is if they have the pitching to help that offense carry the load.
They have not made the playoffs since 2014. That year, they got swept out of the ALDS by the Royals. Before that, they had not made the playoffs since 2009, when they lost to the World Series-winning Yankees in the ALCS.
New manager Joe Maddon and company are looking to change that and get the Angels back in the playoffs.
Amidst sign-stealing scandal, Angels’ window is opening
Despite the scandal, the Houston Astros remain in good shape heading into 2020. That’s partially thanks to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision, which MLB players have deemed light punishment. However, it’s also because they are a good team, even without 2019 Cy Young-runner up Gerrit Cole. If the Angels hope to win the AL West next year, they will have to earn it more than most.
Along with the Astros, the Athletics are a good young team with clear division-winning potential. The Rangers are also a competitor for the AL West, and they help make that division one of the most bloated in baseball. It could be anyone’s division in 2020, so the Angels need to capitalize now.
The beginning of the 2020 season could show a lot about who has the edge in the AL West, as the Angels will play their first 13 games against AL West opponents.
The Angels open the season with four games at Houston and three at Texas, and then head home and host Houston and Oakland for three apiece.
Despite the tough division and lack of great starting pitching, Joe Maddon likes what he’s seen from his team:
L.A. needs starting pitching help
The Angels nearly completed a trade that would have given them starter Ross Stripling and outfielder Joc Pederson, but it fell through. Had this trade gone through, they would have added some nice depth in their rotation as well as their outfield.
While L.A. lacks starting pitching, they have implemented the opener before, and may very well continue to do so this season if need be. Trades for Dylan Bundy and Matt Andriese and the signing of Julio Teheran in free agency this offseason has given the Angels more rotation depth, but they lack a true ace at the top of their staff.
Now, that ace could be two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, but his health is a question as he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery from Oct. 1 of 2018. If he’s healthy, he should be a viable number one starter for them.
If he’s not, the best bet for the Angels is to tread water without a front-line ace for the majority of the season and target one once the July 31 trade deadline comes around. But that should be their goal all season, as one good starter is not enough in today’s MLB.
The Angels have their eyes set on 2020, but will look to be active in the trade market to give them another starter who could help put them over the top. The offense should do its part, but the starting rotation will remain a question mark until the season gets underway.