Los Angeles Angels hold dubious pitching distinction

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts as he is about to be pulled during the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2019 in Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts as he is about to be pulled during the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2019 in Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Even if the workhorse starter is virtually a thing of the past, every team can count on at least one of their pitchers making 20+ starts in a season. That is, every team except for the 2019 Los Angeles Angels.

Heading into the 2019 campaign, the Los Angeles Angels knew their starting rotation would be somewhat patchwork in nature. The likes of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill were signed as stopgaps, with the hopes that the Angels would be able to get something from the rotation this year.

Instead, the Angels starters, which had seemingly been questionable for years, reached a new low. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, 19 different pitchers made a start for Los Angeles this year. Of that group, 14 made at least five starts this season.

Interestingly, none of those pitchers was able to make at least 20 starts on the season, with Andrew Heaney pacing the Angels with 18 starts for the season. In fact, the Angels were the first team since the 1919 Phillies, exactly 100 years ago, to go all year without having a pitcher make 20 starts in the season.

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That Phillies team had a bit of an excuse. They played only 137 games that year, finishing the season with a horrendous 47-90 record. George Smith and Gene Packard each came close to that 20 start plateau, starting 19 games each.

If we go back for a team that had 18 or fewer starts as the most on the team, then one would need to go back to the 19th century, and the 1891 Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, playing in the American Association, folded after 36 games, despite a solid 21-15 record. Even then, the Brewers had three pitchers reach the double digit mark in starts, with George Davies, Frank Killen, and Frank Dwyer each getting at least ten starts on the year.

The Angels did have some extenuating circumstances to join that dubious club. Tyler Skaggs tragically passed away on July 1 at just 27 years old. Griffin Canning, the promising rookie, made just 18 appearances before landing on the Injured List with elbow issues. Harvey struggled to the point where he was released, and Cahill eventually was banished to the bullpen.

Next year, the Angels should be able to find something resembling a rotation. Chances are, they will once again make an investment in free agency to bolster the pitching staff. Shohei Ohtani should be back and ready to reclaim his place as a two way player. Griffin and Heaney will hopefully be ready for the start of the year. This year should prove to be an anomaly.

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However, given the Los Angeles Angels recent struggles with filling out their rotation, who knows for sure. At least the Angels managed to do something that no other team had done in 100 years.