Baseball is already a hard enough game without all the pressure that comes along with it. And fair or not, there seems to be a ton on Alex Meyer and the Angels right now. First we need to understand that the team is currently in a tailspin, and it’s awfully early to be crashing and burning. Oddly enough, it has very little to do with what most skeptics thought, pitching. Sure, the starting pitchers scuffled to start the year, but the bullpen more than made up for this deficit and the offense clawed it’s way back into games.
No, this time it’s the offense. As simple as I can possibly put it, the Angels offense is Mike Trout and not a whole lot else. There’s no one on in front of him, our corner outfielders aren’t hitting, neither is Pujols or C.J. Cron. They’re sputtering big time. And now that the starting rotation is starting to get it together, they’ll need the offense to perform.
But this recent performance from the Angels starting rotation is unlikely to last. History tells us that Skaggs, Shoemaker, Nolasco and Chavez are all best suited as #4/5 starters. The Angels need an ace. Someone they can depend on to get this team back on track when it’s down. That was supposed to be Garrett Richards, who has all the talent to be that guy for the Angels. But he’s on the shelf with some sort of bicep weakness and has no timetable for his return.
Enter Alex Meyer. Other than the fact that he throws hard and is a former top prospect, there’s nothing to suggest that Alex Meyer can be that guy for the Angels. He’s been hurt frequently, he’s unproven in the majors, scouts think he profiles better as a reliever, and is just now learning a completely new delivery. Not the best circumstances. Not by a long shot. But Meyer is the only pitcher with the upside to be that guy they can count on to stop the skid on a consistent basis.
It all starts with his arsenal. Fastball that sits 96-98 and moves. When he spots it on the inner and outer half and keeps it low, he can generate a lot of swings and misses and weak contact. Then there’s the slider, the one he’s better at throwing for a strike than his fastball. It’s definitely a swing and miss offering, especially when they don’t know it’s coming. And finally there’s the change up. Meyer has always had a better than advertised change up, he just never used it effectively in the minors and always struggled locating it. If he does, it becomes a third weapon.
Then there’s the future to think about. Right now, it’s just a spot start, because J.C. Ramirez is holding his own in the rotation. He’s a much better weapon in relief, where he can shorten games by two innings at a time, and his presence in the rotation puts the bullpen at a disadvantage. But if Meyer shows what he’s capable of, the Angels might find themselves in a good spot to win some games with Meyer in the rotation. Furthermore, the better Meyer does, the less Daniel Wright we’ll see, which works out to everyone’s advantage.
And in the unlikely event that Richards returns soon and is in ace form, a Richards-Meyer duo could suddenly give the Angels just what they need.
Yes, it’s a long shot. Yes, it’s only a spot start. Yes, there’s no reason to believe Meyer is any of the things I say he can be. But for Meyer’s sake, and the Angels sake, he might just need to be.