Battle for Angels’ Final Rotation Spots Heats Up

Griffin Canning pitched two shutout innings against the Dodgers in his 2019 Cactus League debut last Wednesday. That was the only good news coming from the outing as the 23-year-old Canning immediately complained of discomfort in his throwing elbow and has been sidelined indefinitely. Canning was expected to join Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, and Julio Teheran in the top four spots in the Angels’ Opening Day starting rotation. His injury opens up the opportunity for an additional Angels pitcher battling for the fifth spot to secure a place on the Angels’ staff. 

Jaime Barria, Matt Andriese, Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, and Dillon Peters appear to be the current top contenders for those final two spots in the rotation. While any of the five could find a way into the rotation, Barria and Andriese would appear to be favorites early in camp.  

Jaime Barria made his Angels debut as a 21-year-old thrust into the rotation in April 2018 and saw immediate success. The young right-hander completed his rookie campaign 10-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 26 MLB starts for the Angels. Barria went into last season expected to be a critical member of the rotation but his performance suffered and he was demoted to the bullpen by mid-summer. This spring, Barria has arrived to camp in better shape, two years older and more experienced than his rookie campaign and seems poised to earn place on Angels staff. Barria is a major bounce-back candidate for the Angels and should be considered the favorite for one of the two rotation spots. 

Matt Andriese was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in January and Billy Eppler immediately tagged him as candidate for the Angels starting rotation. That’s ironic, being that 2019 marked the first season in Andriese’s five MLB season in which he pitched exclusively out of the D-Backs bullpen. Andriese has started fifteen or more games in two of his five career seasons and could serve as an adequete fifth starter and swingman in the bullpen when the schedule allows for his spot to be skipped in the rotation. Something that will have more value this summer when Shohei Ohtani returns to starting one game a week for the Angels. 

Dillon Peters filled in well for the Angels last season as injuries struck the rotation and he could find himself a role in the bullpen with the ability to stretch himself out for occasion emergency starts.

Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez are both young prospects and it wouldn’t hurt to give them additional time at Triple-A to develop their craft. Both will continue to get stretched out this Cactus League and can earn a spot in the MLB rotation with dominant performances with the Halos in the coming weeks.   

Angels This Week 

Pitcher Justin Anderson, who had been sidelined with strained oblique muscle the past two weeks, threw seven pitches in one-third of an inning in Saturday’s split squad contest against the Rockies. Anderson had been expected to begin the season on the injured list but Saturday’s on-field participation is encouraging sign of rehabilitation ahead of schedule. 

Jessica Trout announced on social media late Monday the arrival of Mike Trout’s first child, a son, due to arrive in August. Mike Trout will turn 29 years old this coming August 7. The couple split time between homes in California and New Jersey and their new arrival is sure to get more attention later this summer. 

Angels Down on the Farm 

Orlando Martinez is an Angels outfield prospect that often is missed among the depth of talented outfield prospects in the organization. Martinez has been getting an extended look in early Spring Training games and belted his first Cactus League home run versus the Cubs Monday afternoon. The 22-yearaold Cuban outfielder was an international free agent signing by the Angels in August 2017 and should be slated to start in the Rocket City Trash Pandas’ outfield next month. 

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