The Angels Bleak Search for Pitching

In less than a month, the Angels have been dealt some two deadly blows to their starting rotation. Neither Tyler Skaggs not Garrett Richards will be pitching any time in the foreseeable future. Jeff detailed the devastating blow that their losses may have on their World Series chances yesterday. Today, I thought we could take a look at the potential pitchers that the team could acquire for the stretch run.

Let’s start with the starting pitchers that Dave listed back on June 25 as being potential trade chips. Some of them have been dealt, and some — like Ian Kennedy — perhaps weren’t ever really on the trading block. Which, as you can imagine, doesn’t leave a lot left. Here’s who is:

Bartolo Colon: The Mets should have traded Colon at the non-waiver trade deadline when they could have controlled the market. Now, things have changed. While the Angels are the team most likely to benefit from Colon, there are plenty of others who could use him. And even if they can’t, someone will likely block the elder statesman from reaching Anaheim. Seattle should certainly put in a block, and the A’s are also in a position to do so. Not to mention the Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays, oh, and every other National League team. In fact, the Angels would get the very last crack at him. That’s probably not even possible.

Edwin Jackson: Jackson, however, is most certainly within the realm of possible. The Cubs have very little money tied up in the future to veterans — basically just Jackson and Ryan Sweeney. Given how much money is owed to him and his onerous ERA this season, it’s unlikely that anyone would claim him just for blocking purposes, and the Angels likely wouldn’t have to do anything more than assume his salary. He might not be the prize pick that he once was, but he was league average last year and his ERA overstates how bad he has been this season. Of course, he just landed on the disabled list with a lat strain, so the chances of him getting dealt have gone way down.

A.J. Burnett: Once again said to be contemplating retirement, and why wouldn’t you be when you’re stuck on the Phillies? When given the opportunity to pick his spots, Burnett has chosen to stay close to home on the east coast, but if he’s truly reached the end of the line, then perhaps he’d like to go out with a bang? Like with Colon though, the probability of him sneaking through waivers probably isn’t that high.

Erik Bedard: Unlike everyone else here, Bedard is already fair game, as the Rays released him at the beginning of the month. There’s a reason for that — Bedard has been terrible for awhile, and this year was his nadir. But he’s available, and he started games in the majors this year. And when you look at his game logs, you see he was either pretty decent or absolutely awful, it’s just that the latter started happening more frequently. Perhaps over the course of five starts, the Angels could get the former from him.

John Danks: It’s quite possible that the concept of “John Danks, major league pitcher,” is a thing of the past. Given that he has piled up just 0.8 WAR and a FIP in the 5’s for the past three seasons, it seems that he is simply trading on his name (and his contract) at this point. But if the Angels want to bet on past experience, then he could almost certainly be theirs for the taking.

Kyle Kendrick: His value is declining at the same time that his price is increasing, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the way you want things to go.

Just to be comprehensive, let’s look at some other pitchers who didn’t make the initial trade chip list.

Jon Niese: One of the few pitchers we definitively believe made it through waivers unclaimed, Niese would be a boon for the Angels given the options above. The Mets have a ton of pitching coming, and as I’ve stated previously, this may make Niese expendable, particularly if the Mets can get something good for him.

Scott Feldman: The odds aren’t great on Feldman sneaking through to the Angels, but they’re a little higher than they would be for Colon. He’s been worth roughly half of his $10 million salary this year, and he gets the same salary in each of the next two seasons. Whether or not the Astros are willing to move him is another story. While Feldman is unlikely to be an important part (or even a part) of the next winning Astros’ squad, selling him off for in the first year of his contract might create unrest in a clubhouse where management is already sweating the softer side of things.

Scott Baker: The Rangers have no reason to hang onto him, and he’s pitched well since he was moved to relief, so perhaps he’s not completely useless. Then again, his work as a starter since returning to major league duty hasn’t exactly been stellar, which is why he was moved to the bullpen in the first place on a team that’s in last place.

Could others be targets? Sure, but potentially tradeable guys like Jeremy Hellickson and Jorge de la Rosa are either valuable enough or have been deemed valuable enough to keep. Perhaps they could check and see if Jeff Niemann is still alive? But barring that, there’s not a lot out there.

The Angels may be better off trying to dig the next Matt Shoemaker out of their system. He wasn’t on either Marc Hulet’s or Keith Law’s top Angels prospects lists heading into the season, but he’s done very well for the Angels. Wade LeBlanc is going to get the first shot, but perhaps Nate Smith, Drew Rucinski or Michael Roth — all of whom have pitched well for Double-A Arkansas this season — are deserving of their shot.

The Angels didn’t have a ton of depth to start the season, and that was after trading for Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. Garrett Richards papered over said lack of depth with his amazing performance, but now that he’s gone, the team’s pro scouting department is really going to need to earn its money. Whether they find their solution externally or internally, the Angels will need to act fast.



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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com. He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


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