The Los Angeles Angels are trying to secure one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League, and their starting rotation is about to get a nice boost.
Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney is expected to make his return to the rotation on Friday when his team visits the Baltimore Orioles. Heaney, 26, has not made a Major League start since April of 2016.
Heaney tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow during his first start of the season in 2016. The Angels initially decided to give him a platelet rich plasma injection in his left elbow, and then placed him on the disabled list. Things did not really improve after six weeks, so Heaney had Tommy John Surgery on July 1.
Considering the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery just over 13 months ago, Heaney recovered relatively quickly. Now that he is healthy, he will have the opportunity to help the Angels as they make their playoff push.
Going into the 2017 season, it was clear that one of the Angels’ biggest weaknesses was their starting rotation. Ricky Nolasco is considered their No. 1 starter, and he has not exactly pitched like an ace. In 25 starts, Nolasco is 6-12 with a 5.16 ERA. Young right-hander Tyler Skaggs has pitched well since returning from the DL on August 5. On the season, Skaggs is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.63 in eight starts.
Despite not having a true ace this season, the Angels starting rotation has not been as bad as expected. Their starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.32, which is sixth-best in the AL. So far, the Angels have been able to survive with what they have. If all goes well, Heaney can now step in and be the top-of-the-rotation guy that they have been lacking.
Heaney has shown a a lot of promise in his brief MLB career. Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he was traded to the Dodgers in December of 2014 as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins. Just hours after being dealt to the Dodgers, he was traded to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.
The Angels called Heaney up in June of 2015. He proved that he was ready to be a Major League starting pitcher, going 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 starts. Had he been healthy these past two seasons, Heaney probably would have been one of the top starters in the Angels rotation.
As the postseason draws nearer, the Angels are going to need their players to keep performing like they have in order to hold onto a Wild Card spot in the AL. Their offense, led by Mike Trout, is in good shape. With Heaney about to return to the rotation, their pitching staff now has the chance to improve before the season ends.
Outlook On Justin Upton To The Angels
Never say never. The trade deadline may have passed a month ago, but seeing that there are nearly 1,500 exceptions to everything the MLB does, the time to trade is now.
The Detroit Tigers traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels for No. 9 prospect starting pitcher Grayson Long along with a player to be named later or cash. The Tigers are in total rebuilding mode, as Upton is the fourth veteran the Tigers have traded this season. The Angels will look to use Upton’s big bat and speed to stay in the Wild Card race, where they are currently 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins.
Here are some pros and cons along with an outlook of this trade for each team.
The Angels are rolling the dice with this one, but it’s all necessary to compete for a playoff spot. Upton’s having an excellent year with a .279 average and .362 on-base percentage with 28 home runs, 94 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases. The Angels figure to find room in the outfield for him by releasing former Tiger Cameron Maybin to Houston.
Ideally, Upton would hit third or fourth in the Angels batting order. He’s got impressive power and defense ability complemented by a humble persona. He’s been the most clutch hitter in a Tigers’ uniform this season. If the Angels were looking to acquire a key piece to their playoff puzzle after the July 31 trade deadline, this is just about as ideal as it will ever get.
For the Tigers, getting rid of Upton’s massive contract is a gem in itself. But they also got a solid prospect in Long. He’s a big guy at 6’5.” He’s in his second year in the minors, where he’s posting a 2.69 ERA in High-A and Double-A. Tigers GM Avila is confident that Long can be a future MLB starter at least in the back end of the rotation.
Adding a pitching prospect is a big victory for any club. Guys like Long are often too valuable to be traded. This makes Detroit’s end of the deal that much more impressive.
Trading for Justin Upton comes at a price. That price is $88.5 million through 2021. Upton also has on opt-out clause of his contract after this season, meaning he has the option to abandon his contract and become a free agent after the conclusion of the 2017 season.
This could be a lose-lose situation for LA. If Upton leaves after this year, then LA just gave up one of their top prospects for a month-long rental who may or many not even make a difference. If Upton stays, LA is forced to acquire his mega contract on top of the huge contracts of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, who already make up about a quarter of LA’s entire payroll.
For Detroit, there is always the question of will Long pan out in the majors. Time will only tell how he’ll work out, but it is worth noting that he only has three good pitches as of now—fastball, slider and changeup.
This trade just came out of nowhere. Only rarely do high profile players get traded this late in the season. In this regard, LA certainly found the piece they desperately needed to complete their wild card puzzle
But if LA still misses the playoffs and J-Up opts-out, the Angels lose in every possible way. Even if Upton decides to stay, this still may or may not work in their favor long-term. LA is betting on Upton propelling them to the postseason. If it works, they look like geniuses. If not, they look like morons.
Detroit needed to rebuild in every way they could, and this helps big-time. They already traded JD Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila this season, but Upton’s deal finally addresses Detroit’s far-too-colossal payroll.
Granted, Upton said he probably would have used his opt-out if not traded, thus redeeming the Tigers of his contract in any situation. But this way, Detroit got a pitcher in return.
The outlook on LA’s gamble for Upton will be decided by their ability to make and succeed in the postseason, followed by Upton’s decision to either stay or opt out of LA.
The outlook on Detroit’s side of the deal is greeted almost completely with positivity. Upton has no use in rebuilding Detroit. By trading him they saved money and received a pitching prospect. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Angeles Bolster Outfield By Acquiring Justin Upton From The Tigers
As they continue to make a push for one of the two wild-card sports in the American League, the Los Angeles Angels improved their outfield on Thursday by acquiring Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers.
Upton, 30, was traded to the Angels in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash considerations. The team’s official Twitter account confirmed the trade on Thursday afternoon.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 31, 2017
Upton will now join a team that is currently chasing the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Angels trail the Twins by 1.5 games.
This season, Upton is batting .279 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs. He is third in the AL in RBIs. Upton will definitely be a solid addition to an Angels outfield that already has Mike Trout.
With the August 31 waiver trade deadline looming, Angels general manager Billy Eppler knew that he was going to have to make a move soon. After this date, teams cannot complete a waiver trade and still have the players involved be eligible for the playoffs. Because the trade with the Tigers was completed on Thursday, Upton will be available to play for the Angels in the playoffs if they do make it.
From the Tigers perspective, this trade represents another step in the rebuilding process. By trading Upton, they will save a lot of money. Prior to the 2016 season, Detroit signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract. He still has four years left on that deal, and will be owed $88 million over the course of that span. However, he can opt-out of the contract after this season and pursue free agency. If this happens, then the Angels will not owe Upton anything past this year if they do not choose to re-sign him.
Upton will now be inserted into a lineup that already includes Trout, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons. With this kind of offensive talent, there is no reason to believe that the Angels cannot make the playoffs.
The Angels outfield underwent another change on Thursday, as Cameron Maybin was claimed off of waivers by the Houston Astros. Maybin is the American League co-leader in stolen bases. Because they now have Upton, this move does not really impact the Angels that much.
Along with Trout, Upton will try and help get the Angels into the playoffs for the first time since 2014. It will be interesting to see if the team can play well enough in September to accomplish this.
Rockies Call Out MLB For Lionizing Mike Trout
The Colorado Rockies did something yesterday that many MLB fans have undoubtedly been wanting to say. After the League’s latest “I love Mike Trout” post, The team called the League out on Twitter for its excessive hyping of the Flying Fish.
For those who don’t know, Trout turned 26 on Monday and celebrated by belting a homer against Baltimore. And, as one could expect by now, the MLB went gaga.
I’m sure no one was surprised by this obvious display of MLB media’s obsession with the slugging LA Angels outfielder. But a response from the official Twitter of the Colorado Rockies spoke even louder.
Last week, Rockie Mark Reynolds hit a home run on his birthday, but the MLB’s twitter didn’t even acknowledge it. Colorado pointed this out and, to its credit, did it without attitude.
Don’t misinterpret it, though. Reynolds is enjoying a solid renaissance season in Denver, but he is not at all on Trout’s level. Colorado isn’t saying that he is, but rather poignantly demonstrating the League’s immense over-selling of one of its top stars. And it’s a completely true point.
Mike Trout is an incredible talent and one of the best players of the modern era of Major League Baseball, no one can deny that. Just having turned 26, Trout hasn’t not been an MVP finalist in any of his first five seasons and has deserved every accolade he’s received (well, besides last year’s MVP, we’ll get to that). He and Bryce Harper are two generational talents in one generation and the duo are often called the co-faces of baseball.
But though Harper receives his fair share of hype, the prodigy turned MLB stalwart gets no where near as much as Trout. The Rockies pointed out one of the biggest problems with today’s MLB: certain players get way too much attention, and Trout is exhibit A.
Every professional sports organization needs to market its top stars; it’s an accepted fact. However, there are plenty of star players in Major League Baseball that are often robbed of the limelight because MLB media loves giving it to Trout so much. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Matt Carpenter and Andrew McCutchen are just a handful of players that get nowhere near the amount of attention they deserve because it’s constantly on the same cast of characters. It extends to awards too.
Trout was awarded AL MVP by the BBWAA last year, the second of his career. He did have a very good season, but considering that fellow finalists Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts both posted better numbers in several categories, his victory felt undeserved. Altuve batted .338 to Trout’s .315, and while Betts posted a only slightly higher average (.318), he also had more RBI and home runs. Somehow, Trout still took home the hardware.
I’ve also read that many people apparently think that Trout also should have been MVP in his Rookie of the Year 2012 season. You know, the year that Miguel Cabrera won it because he recorded the first batting triple crown in 45 years? Calling Trout overrated would be inaccurate, rather over-hyped. The guy is one incredible player, but based off the pedestal the League puts him on, you’d think he could walk on water and resurrect the dead too.
It’s tough to hold this against Trout, because it really isn’t his fault. You can argue that he’s a tad smug, but the guy represents the game very well and doesn’t crave the spotlight like some players of the past. I didn’t realize it until the day of, but I noticed that I was very happy that Trout wasn’t at the All-Star Game this year just so that I wouldn’t have to listen to Joe Buck salivating over him for five innings. I can’t help but feel like I dislike the guy, but not as a result of anything he did.
Now don’t get me wrong here. Trout may be very over-appreciated by MLB media, but he’s not at all the only one. Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Clayton Kershaw are just a few players who also receive a disproportionate amount of the spotlight. Trout may be a big example, but there’s plenty more.
The MLB is always looking to build new stars to one day bear the flag, and it certainly has. But if they were more generous with the spotlight, they’d have many more of those kinds of players.
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