The club inked the righty to a one-year deal worth $21 million.
BREAKING: Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Angels are in agreement on a one-year, $21 million deal, pending physical, sources tell ESPN.
The Angels bolster their staff with the highest-upside arm on the market — and pay a heavy price, plus a second-rounder.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 16, 2021
L.A.’s rotation was a major weak spot in 2021, and the organization is clearly hoping to avoid a similar issue next season.
Signing Syndergaard is undeniably a step in the right direction.
We still have a long way to go until the 2022 season begins, but the Angels’ rotation is starting to take shape.
Based on the guys who currently project to occupy rotation spots for L.A., who is the team’s ace?
In no particular order, let’s look at the candidates.
Syndergaard is somewhat of a wild card entering 2022.
The flamethrower has only thrown two innings since undergoing Tommy John surgery, so we don’t really know what to expect.
One thing is for sure, however: When Syndergaard is at his best, he’s capable of being an ace.
He posted a 3.31 ERA, 119 ERA+, and 2.92 FIP across five seasons before his surgery.
If he pitches like that for the Angels, they’re going to end up very happy with their decision to sign him.
Moreover, if he looks like his pre-surgery self, he’ll have a legit case to be regarded as the staff No. 1.
It’s hard to discuss Shohei Ohtani without bringing up both elements of his two-way dominance, but we’re just going to focus on his pitching today.
The superstar was a very effective hurler in 2021, registering a 3.18 ERA, 141 ERA+, and 3.52 FIP over 23 outings.
Along the way, he fanned 156 batters in 130.1 innings of work.
Shohei Ohtani, 95mph Fastball (foul) and 82mph Slider (sword/K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/TlWxREJKfD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 27, 2021
The righty was easily L.A.’s best starting pitcher throughout the year, and candidly, he was the only reason the club was watchable on a nightly basis.
Ohtani will hope to continue his greatness in 2022.
We’re now getting into middle-of-the-rotation starters — and guys who probably can’t accurately be described as “aces.”
Still, Patrick Sandoval was a solid arm for the Angels in 2021, and the club is certainly hoping that will be in the case in 2022 as well.
The 25-year-old exceeded all expectations this past season, maintaining a 3.62 ERA over 17 outings (14 of which were starts).
He also put up a 124 ERA+, 4.03 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, and 9.7 strikeouts-per-nine.
It was a surprise showing for the youngster after he struggled in 2019 and 2020.
The lefty definitely seems to be trending in the right direction.
Like Sandoval, Jose Suarez isn’t realistically going to be the Angels’ ace next season.
That said, he’s another guy L.A. is likely going to rely heavily on.
He started the 2021 season as a reliever, then he made the move to the rotation in July.
The results weren’t bad, as he pitched to a 4.44 ERA over 14 starts.
Including his relief appearances, he finished the season with a 3.75 ERA and 4.12 FIP.
José Suarez’s changeup is a thing of beauty when it’s on pic.twitter.com/tjzODVXtwp
— Halos Thorven (@halosheaven) October 2, 2021
He’ll hope to take another step forward in 2022.
The Verdict: Ohtani Is The Safest Bet Right Now
As you’ve probably gathered, Syndergaard and Ohtani are likely the only two arms who will be in the “ace” conversation for L.A. next season.
Between the pair, Ohtani seems like the frontrunner to emerge as the rotation’s No. 1 option.
There are too many unknowns with Syndergaard at this stage of his recovery from Tommy John, and he needs to prove that he’s still a top arm.
As for Ohtani, he seems primed for another big year.