The Los Angeles Angels head into the 2013 season as favorites to capture not only the American League West division, but potentially take home the pennant in the AL as well. We know the offense is good enough to live up to those expectations. But is the pitching? More specifically, is the starting pitching championship caliber?
There’s no doubt that the Halos boast one of the top 1-2 punches in all of baseball in their rotation: Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Those two are obviously elite arms that would belong at the top of any contending staff. Weaver had another stellar year, with a 2.81 ERA and winning 20 games, while Wilson should be better than his decent 3.83 ERA of last year, his first with the Angels.
Beyond those two, there are some serious questions about whether or not this staff is capable of carrying this team to a World Series title. It’s not that their arms beyond Weaver and Wilson are necessarily bad, they just happen to be total wild cards.
Tommy Hanson is going to be an x-factor for this team. He’s just a couple of years removed from recording a 3.33 ERA and 173 punchouts. He’s looks to be completely healthy, after shoulder and back issues have limited over the past couple of years. If he is and can return to that form from 2010, it will go a very long way towards the Angels’ title hopes.
Then you have Jason Vargas. He’s not going to post an ERA of 3.85 this year. It’s unreasonable to think that he can maintain that after moving from a pitcher’s utopia in Seattle to the somewhat friendlier confines in Anaheim. But if he can supply an ERA around four and another 200 innings, he’ll be a quality fourth starter.
At no. 5, the Halos will be rolling with Joe Blanton. There are no secrets here, you know exactly what you’re getting from him at this point. Around 180 innings or so, and probably an ERA around five is what he’ll probably put up this year. Which means his spot is by no means a guaranteed one. If the Halos find a better option, they probably wouldn’t hesitate to use it, though.
Top to bottom, this isn’t an elite starting staff, but it’s probably one that could take the Angels to the promised land. If Hanson comes through like it’s 2010, or even 2011, the Angels are as good, one through three, as anybody in the league. And in a short playoff series, that’s good enough to get the job done.