The Angels entered the off season with huge holes in their starting five. After absolutely horrible seasons from Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson, the Angels could not afford to keep either in their rotation for 2014. Jason Vargas showed glimpses of being a solid number three starter, but his inability to prevent runners from scoring left the door open for him to leave as well. The rotation is held together by their top two starters, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, but after that there are a whole lot of question marks. It would have been nice to pick up a proven arm on the market, but they do not have money to throw around at free agents anymore after giving enormous contracts to Pujols and Hamilton the past two offseasons.
2014 Los Angeles Angels - Pitching Staff Preview
Although his season was cut short due to injuries, Weaver remains the enforcer on the Angels staff. He posted a 3.27 ERA last year, which was his highest season total since 2009 in 154.1 innings pitched. He may not be the strikeout guy he once was, but he does hold runners from advancing on the base paths with good deception in his windup. With a healthy Weaver the Angels get their ace back and you should look for him to produce a year that looks like something from 2009-2012. Regardless of how many wins he gets, Weaver is a true competitor who gives his team everything he has every fifth day and will be a solid #3 on your fantasy staff.
2014 Fantasy Projection: 16 W, 210 IP, 175 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
2013 was the better of two seasons for Wilson in Los Angeles, and he can still improve. His first half and second half were almost identical and it seems as though he has finally found his groove as a starting pitcher. He seems to always mix in one bad month of starts that skews his era north of 3, so if he manages to nix the one bad month he could very easily have an ERA around 2.85. Wilson fits in much better as a number two starter than a number one, so with Weaver healthy, there will be less pressure put on Wilson to perform other than the $11.5 million dollars he is receiving. Wilson should be looked at as a #3/#4 fantasy starter and has upside for more.
2014 Fantasy Projection: 15 W, 200 IP, 190 K, 3.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Richards has above average swing and miss stuff, and a powerful fastball, so he is a candidate to improve his strike out rate in a big way if he can pound the zone a little more often and keep the ball down. He will turn 26 in May, and will be looking to eclipse the 150 IP mark for the first time, so this could be his coming out year where he proves he is an above average major league starter. On most other teams he would be on a tight leash, but there is not going to be much competition for starting spots in the spring with a lack of depth on the Angels' staff. Richards will be waiver wire fodder in the beginning of the season, but he's on my early watch list.
2014 Fantasy Projection: 10 W, 150 IP, 125 K, 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
A former first round draft pick by the Angels is back with the club after a few years in Arizona and he is only 22. Skaggs has a very high ceiling but still needs time to develop his pitches and work down in the zone. Skaggs has shown glimpses of being a strikeout pitcher, but he needs to allow less hits and go after hitters more frequently. So far he looks like an all or nothing pitcher in regards to getting batters out, but he only has 68 major league innings under his belt thus far, so he has a ways to go and could double that this year if he controls the strike zone. Skaggs is a nice sleeper on the Angels staff and has a ton of upside.
2014 Fantasy Projection: 8 W, 130 IP, 115 K. 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Santiago came over from the White Sox in The Trumbo trade earlier in the off-season and looks to get his first full year as a starter under his belt. The Angels acquired him so he could be one of their starters and he has the potential to be a good number two starter at some point in his career. He has a very promising 8 K/9 which results in a higher than average number of runners being stranded on base. Santiago is the biggest sleeper on the Angels staff and considering his late ADP should be a great target is a #6/7 fantasy guy.
2014 Fantasy Projection: 11 W, 175 IP, 170 K, 3.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP