In one of the four moves the Los Angeles Angels made prior to the lockout, they signed Michael Lorenzen to a one-year, $6.5 million deal. And while the contract itself appears to be relatively low-risk, the Angels and Lorenzen put themselves on a limb by revealing that the career reliever would go back to the starting rotation.
Lorenzen has started just five games since 2015, when he had a 5.40 ERA as a rookie with 21 starts. With the Cincinnati Reds, Lorenzen carved a strong role for himself as a reliever, but went into free agency looking for teams that would allow him to be a full-time starter.
The Angels were happy to oblige as they searched for a No. 5 or No. 6 starter in their six-man rotation. And although locking him into a rotation spot before Spring Training carries some risk, the new starter is confident that this go-around will be different.
He spoke about the improvements he’s made since his rookie year and why things didn’t work out for him as a starter in 2015, according to Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“I know what I want to do, and I know how my stuff plays,” Lorenzen said. “And I’m just smarter and more experienced. My stuff is my stuff, whether I’m in the bullpen or in the rotation. And I feel like stuff that I have now translates a lot better in the rotation.”
“I don’t think people understood how rudimentary my skills were when it came to being in the rotation my rookie year,” Lorenzen said. “I had no idea what I was doing. … I’m surviving with no skill.”
Lorenzen has absolutely grown as a pitcher since 2015, as he was a quality reliever from 2016-2020 with the Reds. However, injuries derailed his attempt to be a starter in 2021, relegating him to just 29 innings out of the bullpen for the whole season.
The injury — and the fact that he’s never pitched more than 113.1 innings in a season for his career — is part of what was appealing about the Angels, beyond the homecoming factor. Because of Shohei Ohtani, the Angels already plan to employ a six-man rotation, meaning a natural innings limit for Lorenzen without having to be limited in-game.
So now, the Anaheim native and Cal State Fullerton alum comes back to the Big A with plans to reinvent his image as a pitcher before returning to the open market next winter. It’s a bold plan, but both he and the Angels appear ready to take the leap.
Angels not close to Mets offer for Scherzer
One thing the Angels are still missing is a bonafide ace after striking out on every free agent option. Max Scherzer was one of those options that they were hoping to acquire, and for a time, it looked like they might be the frontrunners.
However, the New York Mets broke the negotiations wide open with their three-year, $130 million offer. The Angels, who reportedly were closer to landing Scherzer than his own L.A. Dodgers, would not come close to matching the Mets’ historic offer.