HOUSTON — The Angels’ season is going to end the way it began, with about a month worth of games in which the outcome means little.Fall training?Starting Thursday, the Angels have 29 games left. They are 64-69, with almost no chance of making the playoffs. What they are doing now is essentially prepping for 2019.This team doesn’t do long-term rebuilding, but the next month certainly will have the look of short-term rebuilding, with as many as eight or nine rookies in the box score some nights. The Angels will be busy evaluating their roster to determine how best to return to contention in 2019. Also, will Ohtani’s return to the mound vault him back into the race for AL Rookie of the Year? You can make a case he should be there now, but if he reminds people in September how well he can pitch, it can only help his chances at winning the award.What about the other pitchers?Three other Angels starters – Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano – are on the disabled list. All three are expected to come back at some point in September.Shoemaker (forearm surgery) was set for a 60-pitch rehab outing Wednesday night at Class-A Inland Empire. Skaggs (groin) and Tropeano (shoulder) are a little further behind, perhaps returning in the middle of the month.As with Ohtani, the Angels would like to see each of those pitchers successfully pitch in the majors in September, for the peace of mind of the pitchers and to help with the organization’s winter roster planning.What’s going to happen with Mike Scioscia?The Angels’ longtime manager is down to the final month of his 10-year contract. Although Scioscia has denied that he’d made any decisions about his plans, it is widely assumed this will be the end of his tenure.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.What’s unclear is how it will all happen. Will there be an announcement before the end of the season, allowing for a public farewell during the final days of the season?If so, how quickly will the Angels replace him? If the decision to move on has been made for some time, maybe the Angels already have a plan for his successor and will announce that immediately.How will Taylor Ward and David Fletcher do?Ward and Fletcher are getting the chance to play every day at third and second, respectively. Those positions are wide open for next season, although Zack Cozart is expected to be back and playing one of them.In the meantime, September offers an opportunity for Ward and Fletcher to show how ready they are to take on a larger role in 2019.Ward got off to a hot start offensively, but has since cooled. Fletcher has been fairly consistent at the plate so far.To a lesser extent, rookie catcher Francisco Arcia is also auditioning for a role in 2019.Who else will be called up?Roster expansion in September is typically a time many prospects get their first taste of the majors. Among the Angels players knocking on the door for their big league debuts are pitchers José Suarez and Griffin Canning and infielders Luis Rengifo and Matt Thaiss.None are on the 40-man roster now – and Canning and Thaiss don’t even need to be added this winter – so it’s possible none of them get the call. Since Suarez and Rengifo are already expected to be added to the 40-man roster in November, the Angels could justify adding them now to give them a taste of the majors.Is Albert Pujols going to play the whole month?Pujols has played 70 games at first, more than twice as much as he played the previous two years combined. At the All-Star break, they put him on the disabled list to “recharge” his knees.At some point in the final month, it’s reasonable to think the Angels might just shut him down so he can begin resting for next season. As long as the Angels have Ohtani and want him to DH, they are going to need Pujols, 38, to play first. He’s going to have to condition himself over the winter to do so. A head start on that preparation couldn’t hurt, and it would also open up more plate appearances for young players.Pujols, by the way, is 18 RBIs away from 2,000. He’s got a chance to reach that milestone this season if he plays out the string.One more trade?It is possible Jim Johnson, an impending free agent, will be dealt before the Friday night deadline for players to be eligible for postseason rosters. Johnson has a 3.74 ERA and he’s a veteran with closing experience, so it’s possible a contender wants him to add depth.If you’re thinking no one would want Johnson, remember in 2016 the Angels traded Fernando Salas to the New York Mets on Aug. 31. Salas had a 4.47 ERA at the time but posted a 2.08 ERA in 17-1/3 innings to help the Mets reach the NL wild-card game. A team could hope for the same from Johnson.Draft positionAs they currently sit, the Angels would pick 12th in next year’s draft. If they have a bad month, they could “climb” to seventh or eighth. Before you root for them to lose, be aware of a couple things.First, the system that used to protect top 10 picks from being lost as free-agent compensation no longer exists. Now, a club can’t lose its highest pick, no matter what number it is, from signing a free agent who rejects a qualifying offer. A team could lose its second pick, no matter what number it is.Second, historically there’s not that much difference. No. 7 picks have made the majors 70 percent of the time, each accounting for an average career WAR of 10, according to Baseball Reference. No. 14 picks have also made the majors 70 percent of the time, with an average WAR of 7.8. Averages mean little when talking about one particular draft, so you’re still talking about roughly the same caliber of players available in that part of the first round.UP NEXTAngels (LHP Andrew Heaney, 7-8, 4.25) at Astros (RHP Justin Verlander, 13-8, 2.72), Thursday, 5 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM) Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error With that in mind, there are going to be plenty of Angels storylines worth following, as they chart their course for next season.Will Shohei Ohtani make it back?Ohtani threw a 50-pitch simulated game Monday and then said he’s ready to return to the majors. After Ohtani was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, which prompted whispers of Tommy John surgery, the Angels opted instead to try stem-cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection.Although it looks like it worked so far, the Angels will only really know after Ohtani has started unleashing 100 mph fastballs and diving splitters to major league hitters.Doctors have assured the Angels it’s safe to try now – or at least as safe as it ever will be – so the Angels are cautiously moving Ohtani toward a return, which could come as soon as this weekend in Houston.If Ohtani comes back and pitches without issue early in September, the question will then be how much more do the Angels need to see before they consider him healed and pack him up in bubble wrap for next season?