Obviously, we have a ton of guys on the DL at the moment so I wanted to see what kind of impact their absence and their potential return might mean for the team.
Guys that are done for the year: Alex Meyer, Kenyan Middleton, J.C. Ramirez, Blake Wood
That's a lot of potential starting pitching talent and BP depth out until 2019. I know Eppler will see if Meyer and Ramirez can still be viable starters but, given their respective histories, you can see them eventually ending up in the bullpen...which may not be a bad thing. If Kenyan Middleton, Ramirez and Meyer are coming in for some combination in the 7-8-9 innings, that's a lot of potential swinging and missing near the end of the game. Blake Wood is, um, bullpen depth, I guess. Was never really sold on him as a valuable bullpen piece so his absence is negligible but he's a decent guy to have as roster depth.
Guys that may be done for the year: Shohei Ohtani, Matt Shoemaker
So, one huge hole and one decently sized hole. It's rare when losing a player to the DL impacts both your pitching and offense but Ohtani is a rare talent. The fact they are even entertaining treatment versus surgery for this grade 2 UCL sprain give you hope you at least see Ohtani on offense this season on a regular basis even if the pitching is limited. Having him DH, even with recent offensive struggles, is a boost because he is a legit offensive threat with explosive power to all fields. If treatment holds, expect a return by July/August, which is, hey, just like a deadline deal (shakes head 'I know'). Shoemaker's situation is, well, transitional. Between forearm struggles the last couple years and a close encounter with a line drive up the middle, it's hard to think of someone who hasn't been roughed up more on the diamond. They "decompressed a nerve" (yeah, I don't know what that means either) in his right forearm and, according to reports, the surgery went well but I think you've seen the last of Shoemaker as a starter, at least for the Angels. The Angels have Shoemaker under club control until 2021 and his potential does not make him a non-tender candidate so he'll be around. For this year, at least, he could a valuable BP arm when the rosters expand in September.
Guys that will be back but date unknown: Nick Tropeano, Jim Johnson, Jefry Marte, Jack Cozart
Kind of nebulous as to the nature of their respective injuries, their severity and their potential return. Tropeano had a rough June (10 ER in 9 IP) so the "shoulder inflammation" may be a matter of managing Nick's innings and fatigue after coming back from TMJ surgery. I don't think anyone expected him to log 200 IP this season so, unless there is some damage to the labrum that is not being disclosed, we'll likely see more "breaks" like this throughout the year. Luckily, the Angels have amassed some decent 5th start/AAAA talent/depth to provide some coverage but the hope is he'll be ready for August and September when his talent will be needed. As for Johnson, with the Angels bullpen woes, losing him is not a good thing, even with his up and down performance. Although he was out of place in the closer role, injury and inconsistency didn't leave Mike with many options and they could sure use him now for a 6th or 7th inning. His back ailment doesn't appear to be too serious so he'll return at some point but at what capacity remains unknown. Marte is decent depth but, after a hot start, he 8 for his last 49 ABs in May/June but it's quite possible the wrist issue had been lingering for a bit and may have contributed to his slump. Little details are known about the injury but it doesn't appear too serious so it will nice to have his depth and power back at some point. Cozart is a bit of an unknown - both in terms of the nature of his injury and what he provide offensively/defensively when he returns. Given his history, I don't anyone, not even Eppler, expected a repeat of his .900+ OPS, somewhere between a 2-3 WAR would not have been unreasonable, but I don't think it would hyperbolic to say his first year with the Angels has been a bit of a disaster between some costly misplays and offensive underperformance. Still, his versatility on defense and a potential for a .750-ish OPS from 3B/SS/2B means a valuable piece is still unaccounted for.
Guys whose return is known: Rene Rivera
Straightforward injury, resolution and potential return. Along with Briceno, Rivera has provided some solid backup at the C position with both solid D and unexpected offensive pop. Having a solid catching core of Maldonado, Rivera, and Briceno come September will be huge.
Guys who appear to be coming back soon: Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Chris Young
Any time Garrett Richards leaves the mound early with a trainer, you have to pucker involuntarily a bit given his 2016 and 2017. The fact it's a mild hamstring issue and seemingly unrelated to his previous elbow issues is relieving. Despite pitching at times like he's been haunted by imaginary wolves at times, his overall numbers for 2018 at 3.42 ERA 118 ERA+ 1.288 WHIP 10.3 K/9 show he's valuable and will be needed if the Angels hope to compete this season. Skaggs' injury appears pretty minor, as evidenced by the fact he was not placed on the DL, and the fact they doesn't lose his aborted start last night is a bonus. He appears ready to go by this Sunday or Monday. As for Chris Young, it's frustrating that he got injured just as he was starting provide some discernible value while being completely irrelevant the first two months of the season. If Calhoun's reemergence is legit, his impact when he returns will be minimal but he's decent depth.
Best Case Scenario:
Yeah, I know, "when has that ever happened?" but just go with it. If everything shakes out in the Angels favor, they will have a ridiculous amount of quality arms to throw at teams come August/September. We are looking at Richards, Skaggs, Heaney, Barria, Ohtani, Tropeano, Lamb and Pena and that's just the starters. After they are relieved, you could see Shoemaker, and Johnson added to whatever Eppler picks up prior to July 31st and hopefully more consistent Noe Ramirez, Blake Parker, Justin Anderson, Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, and Jake Jewel. Along with that, Cozart comes back to play near his career norms and Rivera, Marte and Young provide valuable depth.
Richards, Skaggs, and Heaney make up the core of the rotation while Sciocia/Eppler continue to manage Barria and Tropeano's innings with spot starts by Lamb, Pena, and whomever is available. Ohtani responds to treatment and his UCL shows improvement but he's brought along slowly with an eye towards making his main impact felt in September while providing valuable offensive contributions from the DH spot after some rehab time in the minors. Shoemaker remains sidelined for the year and most of the BP is hit and miss while a couple of guys emerge for Scioscia to lean on in the late innings. Cozart slows slight improvement offensively but, overall, stays under his career norms while providing solid D.
Worst Case Scenario:
Ohtani with TMJ surgery - what a gut-punch after an auspicious beginning. It's the kind of news that can hurt the morale of the team overall so the leaders will have to step up. Tropeano, and Richards all continue to deal with minor issues on their way back from injury and Barria maybe fatigues a bit due to the workload. Cozart continues to be "Cozart version 2018" which nobody wants or needs. Someone else gets injured because, whelp, that's just the Angels since Kendrys Morales jumped awkwardly onto home plate in 2010.