It was already tenuous when the Angels began the season so uncertain about what $40 million worth of starting pitching would produce.
Jered Weaver’s velocity dipped to a new low in the spring and C.J. Wilson admitted his mounting injuries created some doubt he’ll ever return to the Angels starting rotation. Weaver and Wilson are both owed $20 million in 2016, the final year of their contracts.
When Andrew Heaney’s flexor muscle strain landed him on the disabled list Wednesday, one start into his season, the Angels’ starting rotation entered a new level of discord.
Unproven Nick Tropeano, who has 11 major league starts since the Astros drafted him in the 5th round of the 2011 draft, was called up Wednesday to take Heaney’s place on the roster. After posting a 6.48 ERA in five spring training starts, Tropeano will likely start in Heaney’s place Monday at Oakland.
Starting Sunday’s series finale against Texas is Weaver, who said his fastball topped out at 86 mph in a simulated game this week.
Weaver said endurance will be an issue for him potentially as long as two months. Tropeano has pitched into the seventh inning just twice in his career.
“Right now we’re trying to get our starting rotation in order and hopefully it will give us enough length to do the things that we need to do,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “The solution isn’t to say… ‘Let’s start to stress some guys who are important to the pen.’ We need the starters to get to a certain point in the game.”
Scioscia is holding out hope Weaver can rediscover success he had as recently as the last half of 2014, when he went 8-3 with a 3.78
Another beacon of hope is 24-year-old Tyler Skaggs, who began 2014 in the Angels starting rotation. Skaggs started this season at Triple-A Salt Lake in what could be the final stage of his recovery from Tommy John surgery nearly 19 months ago.