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Angels 2023 spring training position preview: starting rotation

Angels pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout of the spring on Feb. 15, with a smattering of other players who are on World Baseball Classic Rosters also in attendance. As we count down to the opening of camp, we’re analyzing the various position groups on the roster. Today, the starting rotation. Previously: outfielders, infielders, catchers.

2022 RECAP

A lack of quality starting pitching had been one of the Angels’ primary issues for years, but they turned the corner in 2022. Angels starters ranked sixth in the majors with a 3.67 ERA. Right-hander Shohei Ohtani led the way with a 2.33 ERA in 166 innings. Left-hander Patrick Sandoval had his second consecutive strong season, posting a 2.91 ERA in 148-2/3 innings. Left-hander Reid Detmers pitched a no-hitter during a season in which he had a 3.77 ERA in 129 innings. Left-hander José Suarez was demoted to Triple-A after a month, but when he came back in July he was throwing a new slider and he finished the season with a 3.96 ERA in 109 innings. The Angels also had Noah Syndergaard in the rotation for four months, before they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. The sixth spot was a revolving door, with lefty Tucker Davidson (6.87 ERA) making eight starts and righty Chase Silseth (6.59) starting seven times.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Just days after he officially became a free agent, lefty Tyler Anderson signed a three-year, $39 million deal to join the Angels’ rotation. Anderson, 33, enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Dodgers last year, posting a 2.57 ERA and earning a spot in the All-Star Game. Anderson had a 4.62 ERA prior to 2022, so it remains to be seen if he can repeat what he did last year. Anderson joins Sandoval, Suarez and Detmers to give the Angels four lefties in the rotation, behind Ohtani. The Angels are again going to use a six-man rotation, leaving one spot up for grabs. Right-hander Jaime Barria, who had a 2.61 ERA as the long reliever last year, will get an opportunity to start. Davidson, who is out of options, also will have a shot at the job. Beyond that, the Angels have a couple of intriguing candidates coming off seasons lost to injury: right-handers Griffin Canning and Chris Rodriguez. Silseth and righty Davis Daniel will also have a shot.

THE NEXT LAYER

Left-hander Ky Bush and right-handers Sam Bachman and Mason Erla all pitched at Double-A in 2022, and all could be at Triple-A in 2023, leaving them a phone call away from the big leagues. Bush is the Angels’ top pitching prospect. Lefty Kenny Rosenberg got a cup of coffee in the big leagues last season, and he also figures to be starting in Triple-A when the season begins.

MOVE THEY COULD MAKE

The Angels obviously have room for one more starter, and a right-hander would be ideal, which is why Michael Wacha could be a target. Wacha is the best free agent starting pitcher available (excluding Trevor Bauer, who has off-the-field baggage complicating his situation). Wacha had a 3.32 ERA in 127-1/3 innings with the Boston Red Sox last season. He would likely command a contract similar to the two-year, $25 million deal the San Francisco Giants gave Ross Stripling.

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