If you were to ask what area do the Los Angeles Angels need improvement in more than anywhere else heading into this season, the answer would likely be pitching, as they ranked in the bottom of the league in several statistical categories in 2013.
Well, so far in 2014, that has not been the case. The Angels this season have showed steady overall improvement as they are in the upper half of the MLB in many statistical pitching categories. For example, last year Los Angeles allowed the fourth-most hits (1,475) and had the fifth-highest batting average against in the entire league. It has been a complete 180 in that aspect as they are currently second in both fewest hits allowed (344) and opponent batting average (.224).
The turnaround doesn’t stop there as they are 12th in fewest runs allowed compared to last season where they ranked seventh for most runs allowed in the league. The list could go on and on for the Angels in terms of better pitching across the board for the team. What has been the driving force of Los Angeles’ improvement is their starting pitching as they have a combined 26 quality starts in 46 games played season.
It starts with the reliability of veterans Jered Weaver, who lowered his ERA to 2.85 after a dazzling two hits and one run allowed in a complete game pitched against the Houston Astros on Wednesday, and C.J. Wilson, who has a 5-3 record and 3.16 ERA with six quality starts in nine games played. As for their young arms, Garrett Richards for the most part of 2014 has been the Angels’ best pitcher with a 4-1 record and 2.90 ERA, and Tyler Skaggs has been everything the Angels have hoped despite having a 4.14 ERA, throwing at least seven innings in six of his nine starts on the season with the team posting a win in eight of his nine outings.
Outside of Hector Santiago, the Halos have received quality starting pitching up to this point this year and for them to continue to be successful in 2014, it will lie in the hands of their rotation. The Angels don’t have to look too far to see that in full effect as the AL West division winner over the past two years in the Oakland Athletics have built their foundation of success built on their starting rotation.
When it comes down to it, pitching will play a key role in the Angels’ success this season and the starting rotation will need to continue to be at forefront of it in order for them to have any shot of ending their four-year playoff appearance drought.