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5 Benefits of Angels’ Delayed Start to 2020 Season 

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While the nation deals with the hysteria caused by the COVID-19 virus, Major League Baseball has followed the other major sports and canceled the remaining Spring Training games and delayed the start of the regular season at least two weeks.

Some don’t expect the regular season to begin until mid-May, and only time will tell what shape it’ll take when we get closer to play on the field again. However, there are some silver linings to the delay and how it might benefit the 2020 Angels club. 

Ohtani the Staff Ace 

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Shohei Ohtani’s return to the mound was expected to be delayed to mid-May prior to the suspension of the original playing schedule. Now, the Angels may have Ohtani as a member of their staff for a greater percentage of the regular season, especially if the schedule is abbreviated from the customary 162-game schedule. When healthy, Ohtani is the Angels’ best starting pitcher and a bonafide staff ace that the club is so desperately in need of. 

Jo Adell Service Time 

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While it’s currently unclear how a condensed 2020 regular season will affect a player’s service time, we can surmise that it will be affected in some way.  While Jo Adell likely could benefit from more plate appearances at Triple-A, a few successful weeks in the PCL may be all he needs before assuming the starting right field job for the Angels. Like Ohtani in the starting rotation, Adell in the Angels lineup for a greater majority of Angels regular-season games could boost the Angels offense significantly. 

Griffin Canning’s Health 

The right elbow of Griffin Canning is an obvious concern for the Angels.  He was shut down from throwing after his first Cactus League start and was clearly not going to factor in the Angels’ first month of their originally scheduled regular season. Now, Canning’s arm has a chance to heal and receive treatments and could potentially be available to impact the Angels starting rotation in 2020. Particularly if the season is extended into October and November. Canning could be a real shot in the arm (no pun intended) to the Angels starting pitching down the stretch. 

Veteran Durability 

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The Angels have invested much in first baseman Albert Pujols and left fielder Justin Upton for the next couple seasons. A shorter regular season schedule could benefit both players as they come off seasons of injuries and both expected to contribute positively to the power production in the middle of the Angels line-up. Pujols is expected to play a lot of first base again this season with Ohtani as the everyday starting designated hitter. The sooner Ohtani returns the mound, the more games Pujols can play at the designated hitter and provide more rest for the future Hall of Famer. Tommy La Stella, Julio Teheran, and Dylan Bundy are other veterans that could also see perks from a shortened 2020 regular season. 

Adding Another Starting Pitcher Sooner 

We are all uncertain how a delayed start to the 2020 regular season will affect the trade deadline dates but we can assume there will be fewer games played before the deadline than previously scheduled. Billy Eppler and Arte Moreno are clearly still looking at adding another impact starting pitcher to the Angels rotation but need to wait until the trade deadline market intensifies. Assuming the start of the 2020 regular season is closer to the trade deadline, the Angels may find a trade suitor quicker than expected and an arm that can help the club for a greater portion of the season. This may be wishful thinking and a new trade deadline could be placed closer to the end of the season but Angels fans can hope another impactful arm could be added sooner rather than later. 

Angels This Week 

The Angels’ first wave of Spring Training cuts last Monday included Jahmai Jones reassigned to Triple-A Salt Lake and Hector Yan’s assignment to Single-A Inland Empire. Pitchers Luiz Gohara, Adrian De Horta, Matt Ball and catchers Harrison Wenson and Franklin Torres were reassigned to minor league camp. 

Sunday night, the second wave of Spring Training moves occurred highlighted by the reassignment of starting pitcher Jaime Barria to Triple-A Salt Lake. Barria was considered a leading candidate for one of the final starting rotation spots for the Angels. Left-handed reliever José Quijada, right-handed relievers Taylor Cole, Kyle Keller, and catcher Anthony Bemboom were also sent to Triple-A Salt Lake. 

Following the cancellation of the remaining scheduled Cactus League games, Angels players were informed by management that they have the right to return home to Anaheim or other locations or remain in Arizona. Many are remaining in Arizona in hopes of returning to action sooner rather than later. 

 

Angels Down on the Farm 

Shortstop Livan Soto was the lesser-known of the two Atlanta Braves prospects the Angels signed in the wake of Atlanta’s international signing scandal in 2017. While Kevin Maitan’s signing with the Angels received all the headlines Soto’s signing later the same week slipped under the radar by many. This Spring, the 19-year old infielder has found a stroke of good luck in the Angels’ Cactus League games and giving new hope to Angels personnel based on his performance with the glove and at the plate.

Soto debuted with Angels at Rookie-level in 2018 with a .291/.385/.349 slash line with nine stolen bases in 12 attempts. Last season Soto’s offensive numbers digressed to .220/.311/.253 at Low-A Burlington. Soto was hitting .333 (2-for-6) for the Angels across seven games of MLB exhibition action before play ceased last week. 

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