On February 15, 2014, the Los Angeles Angels suffered their first setback of Spring Training as LHP Mark Mulder ruptured his Achilles tendon during warm-ups. Mulder didn’t even get to throw his first bullpen session before his season ended prematurely.
He was the limited backup plan for the Angels’ starting rotation, and was set to compete with newly-acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs for the fourth and fifth spots. Mulder was also a possible left-handed arm out of the bullpen if he wasn’t able to make the rotation, so not only does this injury possibly hurt the starting rotation depth, but it also affects the bullpen depth.
It appears that last years bust Joe Blanton will get a shot to compete for a rotation spot, but if he throws anything like he did last season, he will be lucky to make the team at all.
This sudden injury once again brings up the fact that Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are sitting out there waiting for contract offers, and the Angels should be pursuing them. Yes, these pitchers have draft pick compensation attached to them, but the Angels have a team ready to compete now. The team is not getting younger, and the window of opportunity is closing for players such as Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Howie Kendrick.
The bottom line is that the Mulder injury is unfortunate, but the Angels need to move on and begin to look for another starter via free agency or trade.