LOS ANGELES -- The Angels have been playing well since the All-Star break and are putting themselves in position to potentially be buyers at the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Angels manager Brad Ausmus indicated Wednesday that starting pitching would be the club’s biggest need. In addition to the tragic death of left-hander Tyler Skaggs on July 1, Andrew Heaney is on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation and Matt Harvey has been released.
"I think I made it pretty clear that I feel pretty strongly about our bullpen and our offense,” Ausmus said. “The loss of Tyler and then injuries to our starting rotation have certainly hurt. That would probably be the area that would be most helpful."
The Angels have the benefit of a favorable schedule leading up to the Deadline, as they host the last-place Orioles for four games and the last-place Tigers for three. The Angels entered Wednesday trailing the A's by 4 1/2 games for the second American League Wild Card spot, but are behind both the Rays and Red Sox as well.
“We still have another week to go,” Ausmus said. “You know that the meter can go back and forth right up to before the Deadline. It's on us, the people in uniform, to continue to win up to that point. We've done a nice job recently, especially since the break, but we've got to keep doing it."
The Angels’ rotation is currently depleted, as it consists of right-handers Griffin Canning, Felix Pena and Jaime Barria. But left-hander Jose Suarez will be recalled to start the series opener against the Orioles on Thursday to add to their depth. Canning will start Friday and Pena will take the mound Sunday, but Saturday’s starter remains to be determined. Ausmus said it could be a bullpen game.
So it’s clear the Angels could use a starting pitcher and acquiring one who is under control beyond this season would make sense. But general manager Billy Eppler has been cautious about trading his top prospects, so they’re not likely to make a splash and trade for a headliner such as Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. Taking on salary shouldn’t be an issue, however, which could help them avoid dealing any of their top-level prospects.