2020 Angels Built for 60-Game Season and Championship Run 

2020 Angels Built for 60-Game Season and Championship Run 

by July 24, 2020 0 comments

It’s been six years since the Angels finished the regular season with the best record in baseball and most recently appeared in the postseason. Since then, the club has dealt with one starting pitcher loss after another as they’ve failed to reach the playoffs year after year.

Now, a healthy starting rotation and shortened 60-game season with expanded playoffs could be just what the Angels need to get their club back into an October championship run. 

Starting pitchers Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning both would have missed the first half of the originally-scheduled 162-game schedule. Today, both are expected to start the third and fourth games of the season for the Angels. Both have the ability to be top-of-the-rotation arms and can get the Angels to the World Series by pitching less than 100 innings each.

Andrew Heaney has been dealing with injuries the past several years but has one of the best strikeouts-to-innings pitched ratios when healthy; he’s their Opening Day starter.

Dylan Bundy is the dark horse for a breakout season after a change of scenery from Baltimore coupled with a new pitching coach in Mickey Callaway. The young left-handed Patrick Sandoval and veteran swing-man Matt Andriese round out the opening week rotation while late arrival to summer camp Julio Teheran gets ready to join rotation from Long Beach alternate site. 

If Heaney, Bundy, Ohtani, and Canning can remain healthy and play up to expectations they have a strong starting four not only to lead them to a division title but World Series run in the post-season. That may seem crazy considering the Astros and Athletics have been the top two teams in the AL West the past several seasons but each of those teams have seen losses and the Angels’ gains to their lineup will surprise many in baseball as they monitor the AL West pennant race. 

The addition of Anthony Rendon to the hot corner gives the Angels depth with David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella splitting time at second when not filling in for Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons and future Hall of Fame first baseman Albert Pujols. All five will benefit from the depth they offer in the short season that can provide an occasional off-day or designated hitter time during the dog days of summer.

The Angels will see this benefit as Rendon misses the first few games of season with an oblique strain and Fletcher takes over duties at third base in his absence. Matt Thaiss provides a left-handed bat off the bench that plays both first and third base and eventually he’ll be joined by utility infielder Luis Rengifo when activated from the injured list. 

Mike Trout is committed to playing the entire season but will miss a few games when his wife, Jessica, gives birth to their first child in early August. Trout is joined by a healthy and rejuvenated Justin Upton in the outfield alongside Brian Goodwin for the first week of the season.

Outfield prospect Jo Adell was sent to the Angels’ alternative site for opening week but don’t be surprised to see him activated by the Angels’ first home series as they will get additional year of control by keeping him down for the first week.

The eventual outfield of Adell, Trout, and Upton will be one of the best heading into the 2020 post-season. Michael Hermosillo and Taylor Ward provide additional depth in the outfield in addition to Ward’s ability to play both corner infield positions and catcher. 

Jason Castro will start the majority of games behind the plate and Max Stassi will be the favorite for starts when Castro needs a rest day. Both offer great defensive-minded catching and they have a history of working well with pitching staffs with superior pitch framing.

The Angels’ bullpen will be anchored on Opening Day with 2019 closer Hansel Robles continuing in that role, but don’t be surprised if Ty Buttrey, Keynan Middleton, Cam Bedrosian, and Jacob Barnes continue to see successful opportunities in the late innings for the Angels. They are joined by swingman Felix Pena, left-handed newcomers Ryan Buchter and Hoby Milner, and right-handed middle relievers Mike Mayers and Noe Ramirez.

While the bullpen doesn’t have the same appeal and All-Star pedigree of other clubs in their division, they have strong upside and could also benefit from the addition of Jose Rodriguez, Jaime Barria, and Luke Bard from alternative camp at some point this season. 

Expect the Angels to win close to 40 wins this season and surprise many around the league that have become used to the injury-prone Angels starting pitching clubs of recent years. Joe Maddon’s return to Anaheim as the club’s manager and his mindset are perfect for the 60-game schedule and expanded playoffs of 2020.

299 days following the Angels’ final game of 2019, they are ready to play ball.

Lifelong baseball fan, writer, IBWAA member, and source for all things Los Angeles Angels. Future, current, and past Halos news. Follow on Twitter @_HaloLife.

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