Continuing from our season preview of the Angels earlier today…
Is the Angels' rebuilt rotation good enough for them to return to the playoffs?
Last year, the Angels thought they could bury the American League in an avalanche of starting pitching talent. It was a great plan on paper except for the part where they forgot about the possiblity of injuries because, you know, starting pitchers in their thirties never get hurt, right? Well, they tore up the blueprints for that plan and drew up a new strategy for the 2013 season.
The strategy appears to be a simple one: quantity over quality. After getting burned by injuries to Jered Weaver (back and shoulder), C.J. Wilson (elbow), Dan Haren (back and hip) and Ervin Santana (elbow), GM Jerry Dipoto is taking a much more conservative approach to building his rotation by acquiring noted workhorses Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton. Sure, they aren't particularly good pitchers, but they will eat the hell out 200+ innings each. The hope there is that the Angels' potent lineup will score so many runs and their rebuilt bullpen will be so good that Vargas and Blanton just need to keep the Halos in the game rather than dominate.
Of course, it isn't all safe bets for Dipoto as he took a gamble on Tommy Hanson who is coming a very disappointing season that featured reduced velocity and shoulder problems for the once promising pitcher. If he can at least regain some of his old form, then the Angels will have a nice trio of quality starters to pair with their two workhorses.
For the regular season, that seems like a fine plan since it is more of a marathon. There is still the risk that Weaver continues to break down from years of logging so many innings or that C.J. Wilson's second half struggles weren't entirely the result of the bone chips in his elbow or that Hanson's should will explode or that Vargas will implode outside of Safeco or that Blanton won't be able to compete in the American League.
Wait, what? That's not a great recipe for the regular season at all, is it? What the hell was Jerry Dipoto thinking? Does he realize how much pressure that puts on Weaver and Wilson to both pitch like Cy Young candidates?
Yeah, this could definitely go wrong in a hurry for the Halos, but at least they hedged on their bets a little bit. Hopefully it is enough of a hedge that it gives all their big bats a chance to cover up the rotation's shortcoming.