The Angels will promote one of their top pitching prospects this weekend when 21-year-old lefty Jose Suarez takes the hill for his MLB debut on Sunday, as first reported by Halos Prospects (Twitter link).
Suarez is currently ranked as the game’s No. 97 overall prospect by Baseball America and No. 79 overall at Fangraphs. The Venezuelan-born southpaw soared through three levels in the minors in 2018, pitching to a combined 3.92 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 through 117 innings. He’s only appeared in five games (four starts) so far in 2019, all of which have come at the Triple-A level. In 23 innings, he’s worked to a 3.91 ERA with a 20-to-11 K/BB ratio and a 42.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched throughout his minor league career.
When he arrives on the scene, Suarez will at least temporarily join the Angels’ other top pitching prospect, right-hander Griffin Caning, in the big league rotation. If nothing else, it’s an exciting pair of arms for Halos fans to dream upon as the rest of the rotation deals with familiar injury issues and some poor showings from offseason signees.
The Angels entered the season hopeful that better health from their in-house arms and the winter signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to one-year pacts would yield better results than they’d gotten in recent seasons. Instead, both Harvey (currently on the injured list) and Cahill have earned run averages north of 6.00. Meanwhile, left-hander Andrew Heaney, arguably the team’s most talented starter, has made just one appearance after otherwise spending the season on the IL himself.
Struggles from the rotation have been a key factor — but not the only factor — in another lackluster start for the Angels, who currently sit at 27-29. They’re trailing the division-leading Astros by a 9.5-game margin but could still have Wild Card aspirations, as the AL Wild Card race is currently rife with mediocrity. The Rays and Yankees are currently only separated by a half game in the AL East, but whichever falls back to the Wild Card spot on a given day has a stranglehold on the first of the two AL slots. At the moment, that’s the 35-19 Rays, who have a seven-game lead over the two teams tied for the second position.