In 2021, José Suarez looked like a bright spot for a Los Angeles Angels team that was in desperate need of pitching, and it was expected he would play a significant role on the 2022 club.
However, he struggled early in the season, posting a 5.01 ERA, 5.03 FIP and 1.49 WHIP in 12 games (10 starts) to open his campaign, which included a trip to Triple-A Salt Lake where the Angels hoped they could get him back on track.
At the All-Star break, Suarez had a 5.60 ERA and had allowed 49 hits in 45.0 innings, but he used that time away to learn a new pitch, a secondary changeup to add to his fastball, slider, and primary changeup. In his first three starts with his new pitch, he tossed 17.1 innings, allowing no earned runs with a 16 to five strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Suarez worked on his pitch mix multiple during the season, and during a late July game against the Royals, he threw his slider 44% of the time, which was up from the 10% he averaged for most of the season, and his sinker 24% of the time, and he finished the game with 5.1 shutout innings.
By September, Suarez had a new slider, which he used as a secondary version to his primary slider, with about a four-mile-per-hour increase. The new pitch was effective, registering eight whiffs on 33 throws, and continued to help him succeed. From July 26 through September 26, Suarez posted an impressive 2.84 ERA and 1.105 WHIP.
Suarez finished the year throwing 109 innings with a 3.96 ERA and 3.91, an overall impressive mark considering the start to his season.
José Suarez 2022 highlight
All his success came together in his final start of the season, which offered a glimpse of what the left-hander could do for the Angels in 2023.
Suarez faced the Texas Rangers and took a perfect game into the seventh inning by retiring the first 18 batters he faced. Marcus Semien broke up the perfect game bid with a single to open the seventh, but it was a highly-encouraging start nonetheless.
Suarez should be locked into an Angels rotation that could quietly be one of the best in MLB along with Shohei Ohtani, Tyler Anderson and Patrick Sandoval filling three of the other five or six spots.
If Suarez continues to pitch as he did in the second half of the season, he will become a household name by the end of 2023, but staying consistent is a challenge for any young player, and he still has a lot to prove. Still, the Angels have a lot to be excited about with the potential Suarez has shown.
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