Posted on February 26, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine

Los Angeles Angels
Image via latimes.com

There’s little doubt that the Los Angeles Angels were one of the big winners of the offseason. They added several notable players and brought in Joe Maddon to be their new manager. However, coming off a 90-loss season, the Halos still have a lot of ground to make up. Now over a decade removed from their last postseason win, can the Angels make a big leap in 2020 and contend for a playoff spot or will they fall flat after a great winter?

Rotation

Starting pitching has been a huge issue for the Angels in recent years, and a laundry list of injuries hasn’t helped either. This year, the Halos are hoping that Shohei Ohtani can return from Tommy John surgery by May and be their ace on the hill. In his 10 starts in 2018, Ohtani posted a 3.31 ERA, so there’s little doubt that he has frontline stuff when healthy. The Angels have similar hopes for lefty Andrew Heaney, who has started more than 18 games just once in six seasons.

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Fortunately for the Angels, they’ve added some reliable depth to their rotation over the winter. Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy are both solid mid-rotation starters who should also be durable. Teheran has started at least 30 games in seven straight seasons, making him exactly what the Angels need. Bundy, meanwhile, has started at least 28 games in three straight years. Matt Andriese and Felix Pena could also help fill out the back-end of the rotation. However, the Angels are hoping that youngsters Patrick Sandoval and Griffin Canning can prove worthy of rotation spots, creating some much-needed depth and competition in the L.A. rotation.

Bullpen

In the bullpen, the Angels may not know exactly what they’re getting until the season gets underway. Hansel Robles emerged as their closer last season, saving 23 games in 27 opportunities. But he’s been wildly inconsistent in past seasons, so he’s not a sure thing to retain that level of performance. The good news is that Ty Buttrey, Noe Ramirez, and Cam Bedrosian also had solid campaigns in 2019, giving the Angels several options to handle the late innings, even if the pecking order is far from settled heading into the season.

The wild card of the group could be Keynan Middleton. He looked like the closer of the future early in 2018 before being sidelined by Tommy John surgery. However, he looked sharp in 11 appearances late last season and could once again push to be the team’s closer. The Angels have a handful of other pitchers who could potentially make a positive impact out of the bullpen. 

Lineup

Offensively, the Angels have a chance to go from good to great in 2020. Mike Trout and Justin Upton are already headliners despite Upton coming off a poor season after missing the early part of the season with turf toe. The Angels now add Anthony Rendon to the middle of the lineup, protecting Trout with the best hitter on the open market this past winter. Also, keep in mind that Andrelton Simmons is a better hitter than he showed in an injury-plagued 2019 season. The Halos will also have Ohtani in the middle of the order most days that he’s not pitching.

The Angels also have a chance to have impressive depth in their lineup. Albert Pujols will be forced to play the field most days with Ohtani at DH, but he should still be good for 20 home runs. Tommy La Stella was having a career year before breaking his leg last July, so he’ll get another chance to play every day. Finally, Jason Castro should provide an upgrade offensively at the catcher position.

Prediction

Expectations are surely different for the Angels in 2020 with a win projection of 85.5 after winning just 72 games in 2019. That’s a big step up, especially in a division that sent two teams to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. While they will likely be better than last year, there are still questions about the Angels. Look for the Halos to fall a little short of 85.5 wins and be left out of the playoffs, even they’re playing meaningful games in September.

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