Aug 3, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta (17) and starting pitcher Jered Weaver (36) look back against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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In 2014, Garrett Richards was on track for a top ten year among starting pitchers until a serious knee injury derailed his breakout campaign. Richards always was a player with the stuff to be an ace, but it took a couple years for him to put it together on the biggest stage. Richards has showed marked improvement for the Angels every season, and I believe his 2.61 ERA in 2014 is fairly sustainable.
This is a chance to get a potential top 10 SP at a top 20-25 price, but Garrett Richards will be very unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. As far as I know, he is expected to return by mid May. The reassuring thing about this injury is that it was a freak accident to his knee and not related to his arm.
Jered Weaver is one of those pitchers who will always exceed projection systems. Every season, Weaver is expected to regress due to his drop in velocity and consistently outperforming his peripherals. Jered Weaver is a fly ball pitcher who does not give up many home runs. It is likely that the former ace of the Angels is on a slight decline, but I would still pencil him in for a respectable ERA and 15+ wins.
Matt Shoemaker has the best projected numbers among the pitchers on the Angels’ staff outside of Garrett Richards, but he seems to be forgotten going into 2015. He finished as a top 30 SP on ESPN’s Player Rater in 2014. In fact, I wrote one of my first articles on him because I was impressed with his fast start to his Major League career. I would take advantage of Shoemaker continuing to slide under the radar.
While it can be tough to predict saves, it does seem like the elite closers like Craig Kimbrel tend to finish very high on the leader boards year in and year out. For 2015, I predict that Huston Street will lead the league in saves. There is no definitive rhyme or reason, but I outlined a few of my thoughts in this post here about closers who should record more saves in 2015.
Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball has created all of the projections seen in this post. You can read about how he develops his projections here. His projections are invaluable to this site. You can also visit his site at www.smartfantasybaseball.com.