The Angels have run six-man rotations in recent seasons. They’re expected to do the same this year, although manager Phil Nevin has already indicated the club will be a little less rigid than in prior years to try to get more innings for their top arms.
The Halos had an off day on the second day of the season, mitigating the need for a sixth starter the first time through. They had an extra day to get a second start from Shohei Ohtani yesterday before settling on a sixth starter.
After today’s scheduled off day, the Angels play on six consecutive days. Sam Blum of the Athletic tweets the Angels are likely to turn to their sixth starter for their April 12 matchup with the Nationals. It remains unclear whom Nevin will give the first crack to assume that role behind Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers, Tyler Anderson and José Suarez.
The most likely candidates appear to be left-hander Tucker Davidson and righty Griffin Canning. Davidson, acquired in last summer’s Raisel Iglesias trade with Atlanta, is out of minor league option years. He has to stick on the MLB roster in some capacity if the Halos don’t want to chance losing him. They could deploy him out of the bullpen, where he made his only appearance of the season on April 1. Davidson tossed four innings of mop-up work to finish off a blowout win in Oakland. That was only his second relief appearance at the MLB level, as he’s started 16 of 18 big league games.
Davidson threw 52 innings between Atlanta and Anaheim last season. He was tagged for a 6.75 ERA, walking 14.4% of opponents while striking out 13.7% of batters faced. That kind of production obviously isn’t sufficient but the Halos have kept him on the 40-man roster, clearly believing he’s capable of taking a step forward. Davidson had been solid over 15 Triple-A starts last year, with an above-average 27.8% strikeout rate and solid 7% walk percentage more encouraging than his 4.59 ERA there lets on.
Canning is currently on the 15-day injured list. He opened the season on the shelf with a groin strain, but the issue seems exceedingly minor. The UCLA product made a rehab start for Low-A Inland Empire this evening, working five innings and 92 pitches. Assuming he responds well in the next few days, it seems he’s on track for a quick reinstatement. Canning is first eligible to return on April 12, so his timetable could align with the Angels’ first need for a sixth starter.
If he got the nod, it’d be his first big league outing since July 2021. Canning has lost the past year and a half to back injuries. One of the organization’s more promising pitching prospects a few seasons ago, he looked like a possible mid-rotation arm when he worked to a 3.99 ERA over 11 starts during the shortened season. Canning surrendered a 5.60 ERA through his first 14 outings in 2021 before the back issues that cost him more than 18 months. He has 209 1/3 MLB innings under his belt, almost all of them as a starter. Unlike Davidson, Canning can still be optioned for another season.
While Davidson and Canning seem the top candidates for sixth starter work, they’re not the only options. Righty Jaime Barria indicated in Spring Training he had his sights set on the job. Barria had worked almost exclusively in long relief in 2022, throwing 79 1/3 innings across 35 appearances. He posted a 2.61 ERA out of the bullpen but without huge strikeout or ground-ball numbers.
Barria had primarily been a starter before last season, working to a 4.49 ERA built on solid control. Like Davidson, Barria has made one appearance out of the bullpen this season. He tallied 3 2/3 frames of low-leverage work in a blowout loss to Seattle on Tuesday. He’s also out of options and has to stick in the majors in some capacity.
Chase Silseth is also on the 40-man roster and started seven games as a rookie last year. The right-hander showed intriguing velocity but was hit hard in his initial MLB look. He started the year on optional assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake. Kenny Rosenberg and Jhonathan Diaz also got brief rotation showings last season, though neither occupies a spot on the 40-man at this point. It’s unlikely any of that group is in consideration for MLB starts this early in the year.
Who should get the first crack for the Angels when they turn to a sixth starter?
(poll link for app users)
If Ohtani is so good, let him pitch every 5th day.
I’m pretty sure most teams would deploy him this same way, since he’s in the lineup on days he doesn’t pitch and doesn’t get the normal rest a starting pitcher would typically get.
Then wouldn’t it make more sense to give him a day off from hitting? To me , it seems the drop off from Ohtani to the next guy on the DH list is a lot smaller than the drop off from Ohtani to the 6th starter.
Ohtani is so good. I agree that they should pitch him every 5th day but only because they need every win & this is the last guarantee they have on him the roster.
Amazing he can do any of this.
Ohtani want to pitch every sixth day. So, he pitches every sixth day.
In the 2022 MLB season Otani and Trout finished 2-3 in OPS with RISP.
Why in the world would they want to give the guy the day off from hitting?
Thaiss is the next guy on the depth chart at DH. That is a HUGE drop off. 140 OPS+ to 78 OPS+. Its not smaller than Ohtani to Canning pitching.
Its MUCH more strenuous to pitch every 5th day than to DH. Ohtani will get days off at DH, but not on days he doesn’t pitch.
@Hiflew, Ohtani started 28 games last year as pitcher. He only missed about 5 starts from 6 man rotation. It’s primarily used when no off day in between. By and large tho he pitches every 5th game played
Ohtani missed 4 starts. The aces start 32 or 33 games, Ohtani started 28. The problem with that is all the top pitchers lose 4 or 5 starts. So you are talking about fewer starts from the top of the rotation and more starts from the back end of the rotation.
It’s not insignificant.
But none of this will make a difference if the pen keeps throwing away games.
Depth charts can be misleading. Sure, maybe Thaiss is the next guy on the DH depth chart (and would step in for the bulk of the games if Ohtani goes on the IL), but Thaiss won’t be the guy they slot in on the days Ohtani takes a day off from DH. It will be Trout or other position players they want to give a day off from defense.
Look at last season. Ohtani DH’ed in 157 games, taking 5 games off. In those 5 games, he was replaced at DH by Trout in 4 of them and Stassi in the 5th (but likely only because Trout was on the IL at the time).
Ohtani’s taking the day off today and, while at the time I’m posting this the lineup hasn’t been released yet, I’d bet Trout will be the one stepping into the DH role.
And right after I posted this, they announced today’s lineup and, as expected, Trout is the one filling in at DH.
@Lionel, Unfortunately what u just described I see as biggest issue for Halos. While it’s great to have both him and Trout, as Trout ages and has been battling injuries the DH spot being occupied either forces one of the 2 bats out or forces Halos to not give Trout precautionary rest.
I’m not a fan of pretty much any team using a 100% DH. But in the case of the Halos it quite possibly could b risking Trout’s health or availability.
Ohtani IS that good.
Here’s something to consider…..
Ben McDonald pitched 7 years for the Orioles and 2 for the Brewers. He’s a part-time analyst on some Orioles games, and does a lot of scouting as well.
Last year he made a comment about Ohtani pitching and hitting. Said that in all the years he (McDonald) was a starting pitcher, his body was so sore the day after pitching a game that he couldn’t do anything other than sit on the bench and watch the game. Said he was amazed that Ohtani could hit (and run) the day after pitching.
The sixth man rotation is not a team/Angels approach, it’s a Shohei/Japanese requirement.
I would assume the Angels would prefer a 5 man rotation, but they’ve altered their rotation to accommodate his initial requirement as he was coming over from Japan.
Interestingly that we’re seeing other teams start to consider 6 man rotations to give their pitchers more recovery time. Japanese pitchers have a better history of maintaining health than their US counterparts.
And pitchers used to have a better history of maintaining health while pitching in a 4 man rotation than their modern counterparts. But people don’t want to accept that because I am yelling at a cloud or something.
Come ‘on hiflew…..
Starting pitchers paced themselves decades ago (as did all players). Pitchers often pitched all 9 innings – and even into extra innings. A teams primary relief pitcher usually came in during the 8th or 9th inning if there were runners on base and the starters were tiring. Most of the guys in the bullpen were long relief-type pitchers – many were being broken into MLB that way so that they could get enough experience to become starters by doing mop-up duty and then gradually being inserted into games that were still in doubt. Today’s relief pitchers come in to pitch one inning at a time and throw with all their might.
MLB now plays each game like it’s the 7th game of the WS. A pitcher that throws under 92 MPH and is successful is considered a fluke. TJ surgery’s have gone from an epidemic to a normal, acceptable part of the sport.
I would say this….
All professional athletes – not just MLB – are in far, far better shape to perform at their position than at any time in history (it does boggle my mind how many NFL linemen have a gut hanging out over their belt, but their job is to have quick footwork, strength, and be able to run maybe 5-6 yards max). Heavens, Jim Brown was a power fullback that was a freak because he was also fast enough to run around end as well as most halfbacks. He played around 210-220 pounds. Today we have QB’s that play at 240 pounds.
There’s billions of dollars involved in professional team sports. The competition is fierce. Free agency has resulted in many teams having a different – if any – identity from year-to-year.
Hi flew, totally different game now. You’ve got kids throwing 95mph in high school. 12 year olds playing year round travel ball. The number one age for Tommy John injuries is 17. Think about that. Scouts come to games with radar guns. What does that tell the young pitchers?
I’m not saying this is good; I’m saying it’s the here and now reality.
In addition, MLB is truly a world wide league. Players today don’t just have to compete with the guy in the next town, they have to compete with the DR, PR, Japan, Korea, etc.
Totally different game. Still an awesome kick ass game, but different stakes and competition.
Ohtani did not pitch on 4 days rest. He pitched on 3/30 and then five days later on 4/5.
Turns out March having 31 days is a pretty well known fact! I looked at their schedule and skipped right over last Friday’s off day somehow. Thanks for catching that, post is fixed.
Ohtani is officially the scheduled starter for Tuesday’s game against the Nats on 4/11. Why would they go to a 6th starter the day after he pitches?
Because with the day off, he’s already getting the extra days rest, whereas he’d be pitching on a normal starters rest if they didn’t use the 6th starter on the 12th.
The matchup may dictate the better play. It would make sense to start Davidson against a team with lefty power and Canning face a more prominent right handed bunch.
Plus, TBH, I’m not convinced Suarez is better than Davidson or Canning. I’d almost rather have both of them at the back of the rotation than Suarez.
Suarez was a roughly a league average starter out of the #5 spot in the rotation last season and was roughly average in spring training this season. League average means a #3 starter.
Davidson was horrible last season in the majors and horrible this spring. His garbage time innings this season against the sad sack Giants is no indication of how bad he really is. Other than the fact that he has no options, there is no reason to have him in the majors. Its doubtful he would be picked up off waivers if he was DFA’d.
Canning is coming back from TJ. He is not likely to match even the 90 innings he pitched in 2019. Maybe 11-12 starts and 60 inning this season. While he has insane stuff, he has never been able to put it together and stay healthy a full season. I still think he is the best bet in the #6 slot since that will only require 10-12 starts this season, but Davidson doesn’t belong in the majors at all.
Canning had back injuries not TJ
You are right. I blew that part of my comment.
The only pitcher on the team with options is Wantz and Herget.
I wish the Angels would have gotten a minor league player for Iglesias, instead they got a pitcher who isn’t as good as Canning, who isn’t an RP and he has to stick with the club.
Canning gives the Angels the best chance to win, but it’s more complicated than that.
that was a treason on minasian’s part.
That was just a bad trade all-around. Clearly a salary dump. Now the Angels are without a closer. And you’re right, should have gotten back a few young arms in return.
Suarez on the thinnest ice here. It could be Canning/Davidson as 5/6 before June.
Yeah, I don’t think they’ll tolerate anyone struggling for too long but Suarez has shown more than Davidson and has more upside that I don’t see Suarez losing his spot to him.
Suarez’s rotation spot should be safe unless he gets shelled like in his first 3 or 4 starts. He’s a fine back-end starter. Not too worried about him.
All things equal, Canning.
But him having an option and Davidson not having one is not equal.
Canning needs to build up arm strength before he can start. In seemed to struggle when he went over 3 innings in spring, which is understandable after being injured so long. Give him a few starts in triple A and bring him up if he looks good. The 6th starter should only get 16 starts, but injuries can change things.
Silseth has the higher ceiling, but struggled in spring. He looked good in his first start in AAA. I see the Angels going with Davidson as the 6th man, but I can see them migrating to Silseth and Canning if Suarez and Davidson stuggle for a while. This is the 3rd year Suarez is off to a bad start. Hopefully he looks better in his next start vs the Nats.
Biggest upside might be Chris Rodriguez – if he could only stay healthy.
When only considering talent and spring performance, Canning. Davidson looked good in spring too until his last start in Tempe. His work with Driveline has seemed to pay off to an extent. Based off his one performance this season, his pitch metrics grade out slightly below-average, which is fine for a 6th starter. He’s definitely useful but I’m not sure he’s worth keeping over Canning. Might as well throw Davidson out there against the Nationals if only for the purpose of getting data in an actual start and not a blowout relief appearance.
Angels & NL West
Anthony, if you are referring to the cities where the Braves and Angels play their respective games in the fifth paragraph, it should read, “Davidson threw 52 innings between Cumberland and Anaheim last season.”
Pretty sure he’s just stating the teams he split his time between and not the actual locations they play.
Angels & NL West
Thanks for the clarification. If Anthony is mentioning the teams Davidson played for last season, then it should be Atlanta and Los Angeles. Thanks again.
That’s also a pet peeve of mine, how writers feel it’s taboo to mention “Los Angeles” in articles about the Angels. That’s their official city name.
Canning is on the IL, so I doubt he would be able to start if injured
He just had a rehab start and looked good throughout spring. He’ll be ready to step in.
I missed the rehab start. I think Canning has the better track record. But I also think Davidson could serve nicely as a 5th/6th starter if given the chance!
You know your rotation is deep when there’s a poll asking who sixth starter should be.
I think the next Angels poll should be: Who should be the next Manager to replace Nevin? I’m Tired of the over managing when it comes to the BP, and it’s only been a week.
It’s not going to be a permanent 6th man rotation just occasionally slotted in, because ohtani wasnt eligible for the cy young, because of the inning requirements. It’s probably going to tucker Davidson or barria. Canning has a year left in the minors.
They have a lot depth everywhere, it just comes down to playing time. It’s like Phillips being the 4th outfielder he comes in for a inning and pitch runs if he doesn’t work out they can cut him. Same with Davidson or barria or pretty much the whole bullpen. They have Joyce, Reyes, Rodriguez, silseth, and Bachman waiting for consistent playing time