The Los Angeles Angels were unable to win the first of a seven-game homestand on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners. The offense was completely stagnant outside of two solo home runs and Griffin Canning struggled. However, there were a couple positives to take away, with one being the continued good performance of Jose Suarez.
Joe Maddon went to Suarez for a long relief outing after Canning lasted just 3.1 innings. The Angels reliever did solid work yet again, allowing just one run and three hits in 2.2 innings to go along with three strikeouts. On the season, he now has a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11-to-5.
Maddon sees potentially big things for Suarez if he can get over the hump of believing he belongs, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“Really good,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I like the kid. He’s got good stuff. Good curveball, good fastball with good carry on it. The thing about José is he has a really nice mound presence. He doesn’t get rattled. He was good again. It wasn’t surprising.”
“He could be a starter, no question,” Maddon said. “He can start here. He’s still very young. I still think he’s in stage two and is more of a survivalist. He needs to believe he really belongs here and can do this, which is stage three. Once he does that, he can take off. The more we put him out there in this role and he has success, the more it’ll expedite this process. But he definitely is a Major League pitcher and he could be here a long time.”
Suarez was seen as more of an experiment after several rough outings during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. However, he has clearly turned things around in 2021 to become a steady long reliever for a team that has had some issues with starters pitching themselves out of games early.
Suarez could even start some games this season if there are injuries or certain pitchers really struggle. But Maddon seems as though he wants to give him more chances to come in from the bullpen before making that move.
If Suarez can maintain his current level of output, then starting some games later in the season — depending on the Angels’ playoff chances — could be a great thing for a developing pitcher.
Pitching coach Matt Wise not afraid to rest starters
Another thing that could help get Suarez into the starting rotation is the longer than average amount of rest that Angels pitching coach Matt Wise has given his starters. He spoke about that trend, saying that nothing is off the table in terms of giving starters extra days off between starts.