The Los Angeles Angels this past offseason made the move to acquire young pitching talent in hopes of stabilizing the back end of their starting rotation.
One of the pitchers the Halos added was Hector Santiago, who was a three-year veteran from the Chicago White Sox with little experience as a starting pitcher. Los Angeles knew that they would be taking a chance on the lefty who had only 27 career starts prior to the 2014 season. But it was a chance they were willing to take, as it would be an obvious upgrade over last year’s back end of the rotation. That was more like a merry-go-round ride rather than a professional starting pitching staff that featured the likes of Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson.
With that in mind, Santiago seemed like the promising option but he has been anything but what the Angels expected as he has struggled from the get-go; so much so that he was recently demoted from his starting pitching spot. In his seven starts this season, the 26-year-old has an 0-6 record with a 5.09 ERA, 18 walks, six home runs and 37 hits allowed in just 35.1 innings pitched.
This also includes failing to pitch at least five innings in three of his starts with his last outing on May 7 against the New York Yankees, the worst of the bunch. In his forgettable start, things got ugly in a hurry in the first inning as he gave up five of his total six runs with two of them being allowed and also walking three batters in 2.1 innings, which is his shortest outing of the young season.
In his starts, such as the on against the Yankees, to go along with his subpar overall performance this year, it makes the decision to demote him as a starting pitcher an easy one for Los Angeles. This was the right choice for the time being as the Halos are now hitting stride with good starting pitching over the last week. They have won five of their last six games. This is not to say that Santiago was the reason why the Halos were struggling, but he helped contribute to their pitching woes and somewhat slow start to the season.
Santiago’s rough start to his Angels’ career is a bit reminiscent of Blanton’s season in 2013 that saw him also get demoted from the starting rotation, but a bit too late as he already had complied a disastrous record of 2-14 with 6.04 ERA, 180 hits and 29 home runs allowed, along with a .317 BAA in 132.2 innings pitched in 20 starts. This includes the Angels losing in 17 out of 20 starts he made in 2013. This is a route the Halos did not want to take with Santiago this season, but were forced to given his struggles to begin the season.
Ultimately, it was the right choice that had to be made. It helps both parties involved and allows the Angels to put in a more viable starting pitcher while Santiago now has the chance to get out of his pitching funk, with the extra motivation being earning back his starting-rotation spot. Although it may seem like a difficult move for the Angels to make, it was one that was needed for them to continue to compete in the AL West.