The Angels really needed to get some high-end young pitching for the 2014 season, so Jerry Dipoto did what he does best: trade for Tyler Skaggs. That move worked well for him once, will it work just as well the second time around?
*The MWAH projections are simply my best guess based off my own personal opinion and research (my wOBA calculation is approximate because my math skills are only “meh”)
What happened in 2013?
There was some real expectation for Tyler Skaggs to be a big contributor to the Diamondbacks in 2013, but it wasn’t meant to be. That had less to do with Skaggs and more to due with the Diamondback messing with him, because that is what the Diamondbacks do.
Concerned about Skaggs’ command, Arizona had Tyler shorten his stride. As expected, his command improved. The side effect was that he lost a lot of velocity. OOPS!
That led to Skaggs getting knocked pretty well in seven starts in the majors and posting a less than appeasing 4.59 ERA in Triple-A. The whole saga caused the D’Backs to lose faith in Skaggs, because that is how the Diamondbacks operate. A few bad months and they kick you to the curb. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure as the Angels gleefully acquired him as part of their trade of Mark Trumbo this winter.
What do the projections think he will do in 2014?
The projections mostly seem to think that Arizona made a big mistake in trading Skaggs. Steamer, Oliver and ZiPS all have Skaggs turning in a performance on par with a #3 starter. CAIRO paints a pretty scary picture, but that system weighs his 13 poor big league starts pretty heavily.
To be fair to the D’Backs, the projection systems do believe Skaggs to have some command issues. His walk rates are a bit higher than most would be comfortable with and he is likely to be homer prone as well. That last part should be mitigated somewhat by pitching in Anaheim instead of Arizona, however.
Considering that Skaggs is still just 22 years old, that’s a pretty good set of projections that the Angels have to be happy to see.
Does the Monkey agree or disagree?
I’m pretty much right there with the non-CAIRO projections. Skaggs may no longer be the future ace that some thought he was when the Angels originally traded him to Arizona for Dan Haren, but he clearly has a lot of talent. The command is the real standout issue though and it is going to take him more time to work that out, if he ever does. Until then, it is going to be a bit of roller coaster.
Honestly, I kind of see him being like the new Ervin Santana. He isn’t a two-and-a-half pitch pitcher like Santana, but more in terms of the consistency. Skaggs is a big southpaw that throws in the mid-nineties with plus offspeed pitches. The days where his mechanics are in-tune and his command is locked in, opposing batters are going to get mowed down. The days where none of that is working, Skaggs is going to be taking some early showers.
It will all even out in the end with Skaggs being a nice third starter who will have a bright future in front of him where the Angels can hope for him to move up the rotation pecking order.
What are the known unknowns?
Technically, we don’t even know if Skaggs is going to be in the rotation yet. All signs seem to indicate that will happen, but sometimes teams do crazy things. I doubt the Angels are that crazy though.
Assuming Skaggs gets the rotation nod, the real question is whether or not the Diamondbacks were right about their concerns over his command. Let’s be honest, Arizona has done a much better job of producing pitching the last few years than the Angels. Just look at Patrick Corbin (before he blew out his elbow, anyway) and Wade Miley. While many experts looked at Skaggs and saw that his velocity loss issues were easy to fix, the Diamondbacks knew Skaggs better than anyone and made him adopt those changes in the first place. We can’t rule out that Arizona knows something everyone else doesn’t.