The time has finally come. Spring Training is now here and the Los Angeles Angels have settled into Tempe, Arizona to begin their journey towards Postseason glory. The last few years have been very confusing for Angel fans who have seen their team enter the Postseason with the best record on baseball in 2014 but miss the playoffs entirely in 5 of the past 6 seasons. After several moves in the offseason, this year’s squad looks like it has enough talent to make a push for a berth in the Postseason. But in order to remain competitive throughout the 2016 campaign, there are three important issues that manager Mike Scioscia will be faced with.
The Angels rotation last year was a bit of a mystery with pitchers such as Hector Santiago having a great first half but losing steam towards the end of the season. One advantage that LA will have in 2016 is depth within their pitching staff. Garrett Richards will be ready to go for a full season after missing parts of 2014 and 2015 with a knee injury. Backing him up will be right handers Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker, who will both be looking to have bounce back seasons.
The lefties that will be competing for spots in the rotation include Santiago, Andrew Heaney, CJ Wilson, and Tyler Skaggs. Wilson is coming off a sub par season in which he battled injuries and has been the subject of trade rumors for the past few years. Skaggs is fresh off of Tommy John surgery rehab and most likely won’t be rushed into action right away. With so many options, it will be interesting to see how the Angels mix and match their staff over the course of the year.
Once considered among the best players in the game, Albert Pujols has come back to the pack since joining the Angels. While his power numbers are still there, his average has dipped considerably over the last 4 seasons. He underwent foot surgery in the offseason which might bring him back to full strength for the first time in a while. The Angels offense is already a little thin and with Pujols not expected to be ready for Opening Day, it could become the Mike Trout show on offense.
Last year, the American League West emerged as one of the best divisions in baseball with two teams qualifying for the Postseason and anther one (the Angels) barely missing out. The Texas Rangers were division champs in 2015 and are only getting stronger with Yu Darvish returning from injury. The Houston Astros ended their 10 year Postseason drought last season and have a young core that is going to continue to improve. The Seattle Mariners had a disappointing season last year but have enough talent to certainly be a contender in the American League. The Oakland A’s don’t look like much of a contender for the division but are always a competitive team to play, especially for the Angels.