The Angels are another difficult team to find a player on as it’s basically Trout and a bunch of nothing. There just isn’t a lot of fantasy sparkle here outside of Trout. Tropeano isn’t even a guy who is projected to make the 25 man but just like last year, I’d expect him to log some innings at the MLB level. I probably wouldn’t draft him in all but the deepest of leagues but I would absolutely monitor the Angels spring depth chart to see if he can steal the 5th spot as there is a lot of potential here.
Tropeano threw 37.66 pretty fantastic innings in the majors last year. He had a 3.82 ERA, 2.6 FIP, and 3.64 xFIP to go along with a 23.6 K rate, 6.2 BB rate and 4.5 HR/FB%. Over a full season, those would be pretty fantastic numbers but alas it was only over seven starts. Tropeano might be hard pressed to log more than seven starts in 2016 but the competition ahead of him certainly isn’t lightyears above him in skillset outside of Garrett Richards. Jered Weaver is not a good pitcher and if he wasn’t making obscene amounts of money, I’m not sure he’d be a lock for this rotation. Weaver relies on smoke and mirrors more than any SP in the majors and has thrown less than 160 IP in two of the last three years. Then we come to C.J. Wilson. I have a soft spot for Wilson but he’s hardly a measure of durability throwing 175.66 and 123 IP the last two years respectively. Rounding out the rotation are Andrew Heaney and Matt Shoemaker, neither of whom have sustained success at the MLB level. The opportunity will certainly be there for Tropeano. He might not log 20 starts but he could work his way into 10-15 starts if the cards break right.
One of the amazing parts of Tropeano’s MLB run has been his two HRs allowed in 59.33 IP. Most of that is extreme luck but part of it might be ballpark related. Tropeano doesn’t throw enough GBs (42.6%) to sustain such a low HR rate but Angel Stadium certainly helps out. It grades out in the bottom five or six for both left handed and right handed power. That will definitely help keep Tropeano’s HR rate lower than one would expect in a neutral ballpark. If he can continue to strikeout batters at an above average rate and have an above average walk rate, there is no reason why Tropeano can’t string together a solid run of starts in 2016.
The question now is can he sustain the K and BB rate. I’m pretty sold on the K rate and I think it can continue if not improve. Tropeano doesn’t throw hard (averaged 91 mph on his FB last year) but he does have some decent stuff. The chart below shows Tropeano’s whiffs per swing and percent usage across his repertoire in 2015.
(Stats via Brooksbaseball)
What’s to like here is that Tropeano can set guys down at a great rate with both his changeup and slider. We have to flash a small sample size alert but he seems to have two pretty decent pitches and the split finger, while not thrown often, could be the difference between Tropeano being a fantasy asset and just a back of the rotation arm. If Tropeano were to throw 100 IP this year, it would be interesting to see just how much he worked in the splitter. If he can sustain the high whiff rates on both the change and slider and work in the splitter a bit more, he can easily replicate the 23.6 K rate and potentially even bump it up a bit. The BB rate on the other hand figured to go up. The 6.2% last year was his lowest at any level in his professional career (not including the 3.6% in rookie ball over 7 IP). That is likely to bump up to more to an average level than an above average level.
Steamer projects Tropeano for a 3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 21.3 K% and 7.7 BB% in 36 IPs. I think Tropeano can crack 100 IPs if things break right, but I think the Steamer projection is more reasonable. Essentially Tropeano could be a solid streamer for a month or two. I’ll give Tropeano a 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 23.8 K% and 7.2 BB%.
The big question for Tropeano is can he log the innings to provide enough fantasy value to warrant any draft considerations. As of now the answer is no, but he is a name I would absolutely keep an eye on in the spring. If he can crack the rotation in spring, this is a guy I will definitely take a late round flyer on.