Can the Los Angeles Angels challenge the Houston Astros in 2018?

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Houston Astros
ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 12: Garrett Richards /

Starting Pitching

Los Angeles surprisingly has an abundance of starters on its roster. But compared to the rest of the league, a majority of them are mediocre.

Just one of the pitchers that accrued more than 10 starts qualified for any awards based on innings pitched – Ricky Nolasco. And while he sported a ballooned 4.96 ERA, other pitchers put up much better numbers.

The rotation is still a work in progress. Several young, inexperienced guys logged many innings because the original rotation was plagued by injuries. Ace Garrett Richards tossed just 27 2/3 innings. Three other guys penned in as starters in April – Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs – accumulated only 183 1/3 innings combined.

Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, on the other hand, threw 292 1/3 innings between the two of them. Thus, it’s clear that health might be the most prominent issue for the Angels’ pitching staff.

That doesn’t stop with Ohtani either, who seemingly has an elbow issue – the Angels aren’t worried. Los Angeles will likely use a six-man rotation, which could be a new trend in the next few seasons.

No matter how impressive Ohtani may be, the Astros possess a more reliable crew of hurlers. And if they sign Yu Darvish, they will sport the best staff in the league, with two Cy Young winners at the helm.

Brad Peacock pieced together some masterful outings, even though he still needs to be stretched out. If he remains in the rotation, however, he is an above-average guy in the back of the rotation. Morton upped his game in 2017, posting a career-high strikeout rate and a career-low WHIP.

Houston’s starting staff pitched to a 4.03 ERA as a whole, sixth-best in the MLB. The starters sport commanding repertoires as well, as they compiled the fifth-most strikeouts in the league. The Angels’ pitchers racked up just 711 strikeouts in 871 2/3 innings altogether, ranking 22nd.

Advantage: Houston Astros