However, their pitching is bleak after Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval.
They had the ninth-worst ERA in MLB, with 4.68, and the pitching has been mediocre for years.
It’s time for the organization to address its biggest weakness both in the trade market and free agency.
The #Angels have no excuse not to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason. There are so many good free agent starters available: Gausman, Gray, Kershaw, Ray, Rodón, Rodriguez, Scherzer, Stroman, Syndergaard, & Verlander.
— nmbaseball (@nmbaseball) November 8, 2021
These three names could take them to the next level: the playoffs.
3. Robbie Ray
Any top pitcher should be in consideration for the Angels.
However, Robbie Ray is an enticing target because, at 30, he still should have at least four or five seasons at a good level, which is precisely the projected length of his next contract.
After making some huge improvements with his control, Ray is now the leading candidate to win the American League Cy Young award.
He led the junior circuit in strikeouts, with 248 in 193.1 frames.
Additionally, he had a rock-solid ERA of 2.84 and a career-low 2.47 walks per nine innings.
The 2021 season could go down as his best season: his 3.69 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a closer indication of his true talent, as he allows too much contact in the air to keep a sub-3.00s ERA forever.
His true talent probably lies somewhere in between his ERA and FIP, so it’s safe to pen him as a 3.30-3.40 ERA type of pitcher, which would be a breath of fresh air for the Angels.
2. Kevin Gausman
30-year-old Kevin Gausman broke out in 2020, with a 3.62 ERA and a career-high 11.92 strikeouts per nine frames.
Many people dismissed that as small sample size noise.
However, he once again silenced the critics with a masterful 2021 performance.
Gausman had a career-best 2.81 ERA this year in 192 frames.
He kept striking batters out and was especially stingy with home runs, allowing his lowest HR/9 mark, 0.94, since 2014.
His 3.00 FIP validates his success, and even though he faltered in the second half, his 2021 campaign was a massive success and set him up for a nice payday this offseason.
The Angels should be behind his signature, as they desperately need reliable pitching to pair with a very good offensive core.
1. Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer and the Angels are perhaps the most obvious fit in the history of baseball.
The veteran right-hander remains an elite performer (2.46 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 5.4 Wins Above Replacement in 179.1 frames) even at 37, and the Angels could use all the elite pitching they can get.
It’s possible he seeks a multi-year deal that nets him more than $40 million per season, but since it would be a short deal (a two-year pact seems likely), Los Angeles should be all in even if it involves some risk.
They have had baseball’s best player, Trout, since 2011, and they only went to the postseason once, in 2014, with an early exit.
It’s time to take some risks, or the Angels will miss Trout’s (and Ohtani’s and Rendon’s) prime.
Scherzer is said to prefer the West Coast, so the fit is perfect.
SP: (Scherzer, R. Ray, S. Gray, resign Cobb)
RP: (resign Iglesias, Joe Kelly, M. Lorenzen)
SS: (Seager or Correa)
1B Depth: José Martinez
Call ups: Thaiss (1B, C, 3B), Rodriguez (SP, RP)
— Picasso ® (@faughtelf97) November 6, 2021
Scherzer will contribute top numbers and be a steady clubhouse presence for a playoff-hungry club.