With a month of the regular season marked off of the calendar, the Los Angeles Angels are in the thick of the American League West after playing above .500 baseball despite some hiccups.
Manager Phil Nevin and his club hold a 15-14 record, and a deeper look into how his club is actually performing reveals they have solid pieces in place. Their offense ranks within the top 10 with a 108 wRC+ and has registered a top-five hard-hit rate in all of baseball.
The additions of Hunter Renfroe’s power bat alongside Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, and others are doing all they can by scoring 5.1 runs per game heading into play on May 2. But scoring runs hasn’t been the difficult part, mainly because the bulk of the frustration is centered around starting pitching and their ability to play up to their competition.
According to Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register, the Nevin and the Angels aren’t yet putting too much into their sub-.500 play against teams with winning records:
“That doesn’t concern me, no,” Nevin said before Sunday’s game. “We’ve got to play them. We’ve got to play them all. We played those (winning) teams on the road too. So that’s a little bit different story. We’re still trying to find our own identity. I know that it’s coming. It’s coming fast. Sitting here at .500, in the position we’re at, in the kind of a stretch we had, I’m not exactly OK with it, but I know we’re in a good place.”
Against teams playing above .500 baseball, the Angels are 4-9. Their most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers highlighted a bit of what brand of baseball they can play, pitch well when the offense is limited, and in the case of Saturday, keep up with runs scored, but come up short in a 7-5 loss.
The bullpen has actually been one of the brighter spots on the team, a change from recent years. Mixed showings from their starting rotation have put some extra pressure on them, which will eventually begin to wear on them if it continues.
Angels starters have registered just nine quality starts and on the season hold a 5.02 FIP, which ranks 24th in Major League Baseball. General manager Perry Minasian has the young arms to shuffle into the rotation, but the underperformance of Tyler Anderson has been an issue alongside José Suarez’s early struggles have put them in lopsided affairs.
José Suarez bounces back in Angels Sunday win over Brewers
Going without a decent outing through his first of four starts in the regular season, Suarez desperately needed a bounce-back game. In what could have been a fork in the road for him, he delivered on Sunday with five shutout innings against the Brewers.
Suarez notched six punchouts, walked three batters, and kept hits to a minimum after allowing just two over his five frames, earning his first win of the season.
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