During the offseason, the Los Angeles Angels were quick to recognize their weak spot: the starting rotation. After mediocre to disgraceful performance by Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas, it became clear that the Angels would have to look elsewhere for employable arms.
In a three-way trade that sent standout outfielder Mark Trumbo to Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching coach Mike Butcher acquired Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago from the Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox, respectively. Despite these additions, the Angels have struggled to keep their opponents off the board early in games. Here’s a breakdown of how each starting pitcher has performed in the early going.
The Angels’ longtime ace has recovered from the injuries that hampered him last season, but the velocity of his fastball continues to drop. In his six starts, he holds a 2-2 record and a 4.00 ERA. Weaver was robbed of a win in a late-April game against the Nationals when former closer Ernesto Frieri surrendered three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Taking this into consideration, Weaver’s pitching hasn’t been a huge concern for the club, but with an unreliable bullpen behind him, Weaver will need to be more consistent as the season goes on.
Local lefty CJ Wilson showed promise when the Angels acquired him from the Texas Rangers before the 2012 season, but he was often inconsistent from start to start during his first two seasons in Orange County. In his first six starts of 2014, he has a 4-2 record and a 3.18 ERA with 41 strikeouts. In his last start, Wilson allowed only two hits and one run over eight innings. He put down the last 18 Cleveland Indian batters in order, collecting six strikeouts in the process. Performances like this will help take pressure off of the bullpen and the batters.
Hector Santiago isn’t quite what the Angels bargained for. In his first career game as an Angel, he gave up four runs over five innings to the Seattle Mariners. Another poor start against the Mariners resulted in a 7.71 ERA, which he gradually worked down to 3.68 before stringing together some more weak outings.
He currently has a 0-5 record over his six starts and a 5.01 ERA. The bullpen has allowed many of his runners to score, but the untimely hits that he has allowed are the real reason behind his losing record.
The righty Richards floated between the starting rotation and the bullpen for much of last season, not performing particularly well in either role. In the offseason, it became clear that, in order for the Angels to succeed, Richards needed to become more consistent. His 3-0 record over six starts and his 2.84 ERA reveal that he has done just that. In his last start against the Rangers, he allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings while striking out nine batters. This resulted in his third win of the season.
Former Diamondback Tyler Skaggs got off to a good start, keeping his ERA below 3.50 during the month of April. But the wheels came of in his first May start, which came against the Texas Rangers. In 2.2 innings of work, he allowed eight hits and six earned runs, putting the Angels in a whole they couldn’t’ climb out of. His season ERA is now 4.54, and he has a 2-1 record over six starts. Skaggs needs to find the control he possessed at the beginning of the season. The bullpen simply isn’t strong enough to work through six innings.