As the offseason nears its official starting point, it’s time to do some reflecting on the Los Angeles Angels 2021 season. Injuries and a lack of quality pitching plagued the team for yet another season, leading to more than an entire month of garbage time to end the season.
This extended run of less than meaningful play led to a significant number of MLB and Angels debuts on the mound. Janson Junk, Packy Naughton, and Reid Detmers are just some of the names to get the call to the big leagues with the Angels in need of starters to get through the season.
Here, we begin our 2021 player review series by looking at three young pitchers — Detmers, Junk, and Naughton — that found their way to the Majors during the final months of the season.
Detmers technically made his debut on August 1, so he was not a September call up. However, by the time he made his MLB debut, the Angels were effectively out of legitimate playoff contention. Due to a long bout with COVID-19, the Angels 2020 first-round pick only made five starts in two months.
At times, he showed the dazzling curveball and powerful fastball that got him to the Majors so quickly, but hard contact against him was an ever-present issue. In those five starts, he managed just 20.2 innings for an ERA of 7.40 and a WHIP of 1.790. His 6.36 FIP shows some unlucky outcomes, but overall there was much left on the table.
His 2021 performance does not change the fact that he could be a huge part of the Angels future. However, it did prove that his impact is meant for the future, not the present.
Expectations were lower when Janson Junk made his MLB debut of Sep. 5. Junk was acquired at the trade deadline in the Andrew Heaney deal, but was quickly called up to the Angels when they were in need of starting pitching.
Junk genuinely impressed those within the Angels organization. In four starts and 16.1 innings of work, Junk put together a 3.86 ERA, a 1.347 WHIP, and walked a total of two batters. He, like Detmers, was snake-bitten by the home run ball, but showed some Major League prowess.
It would be surprising to see him on the Opening Day roster in 2022, but he adds to the new-found pitching depth in the Angels organization.
Naughton made his debut with the Angels on Aug. 8 and was acquired by the Halos last offseason in the Brian Goodwin trade. In five starts and seven total appearances, Naughton struggled with hard contact and walks.
He pitched 22.2 innings, allowing a 6.35 ERA, an 1.809 WHIP, and a K-to-BB ratio of below one, signaling more walks than strikeouts. Naughton won’t likely be on the MLB roster in 2022, but could find himself in a long relief role if the team needed it.