Angels could have a strong rotation in ’18 … if they can stay healthy – Orange County Register

ANAHEIM — Hours before the Angels began their final weekend of a disappointing 2017 season, Matt Shoemaker was in the outfield playing catch, building for 2018.

A little later, Garrett Richards stood in the clubhouse and pondered the possibilities.

“Everybody in our rotation has had moments where they’ve looked unbelievable,” Richards said. “We know it’s certainly possible.”

The Angels’ rotation has been decimated by injuries two years in a row, most notably with Richards missing almost all of both seasons. Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs, who started Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, also missed most of both seasons. Shoemaker has been out the second half of this season, after missing the final month of 2016 when he had to have brain surgery after getting hit in the head by a line drive.

“When somebody goes down, we are all like, Really? This is happening?” Richards said. “I don’t think there’s any method to the madness. It’s all just sheer bad luck.”

Which is why there is hope around the Angels that, if their luck can change next season, their weakness could suddenly become a strength.

“If we could have four or five guys up and healthy,” Shoemaker said, “the sky is the limit.”

As they close this season, five of the top eight starting pitchers under control for next year are able to throw without restrictions. Only one — Alex Meyer, who had shoulder surgery — is out for next season.

Shoemaker (radial nerve compression surgery) is throwing, with the plan of working up to extended bullpen sessions within a month. If he passes that test, he’ll be shut down and considered healthy for spring training.

JC Ramirez (damaged ulnar collateral ligament) underwent stem-cell treatment last month. He has an ultrasound scheduled for Sunday to check the progress, he said. General Manager Billy Eppler said the damage to his elbow was not as serious as the injuries that Richards and Heaney had when they underwent…

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