The Los Angeles Angels — at the opening of a 10-game road trip — had to make a one-night stop in The Bronx as they faced the New York Yankees in a make-up game. While certainly inconvenient, the Angels had a chance to get back to .500 with a win, and Joe Maddon entrusted Jose Suarez with that task.
Suarez got off to a shaky start, allowing an Aaron Judge single and a Joey Gallo towering home run in back-to-back at-bats in the first inning. Gallo’s missile gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead over the Angels before six outs had even been recorded.
From there, Suarez found his stride. In innings 2-5, Suarez faced the minimum 12 batters, allowing just one infield single. He needed some help from Steve Cishek to get bailed out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the sixth inning, and he did just that.
Suarez finished with two earned runs, four hits, three walks, and six strikeouts over 5.0-plus innings pitched, but got the loss as the Angels were unable to muster anything outside of a first-inning solo home run by Justin Upton, losing 2-1 and dropping to 59-61.
Maddon was still highly impressed by what he saw from Suarez, saying that what the Angels saw from him on Monday is what they can expect for the foreseeable future, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com:
“You saw pretty much what he is going to look like for many years to come,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He gave up the home run early, but he settled in. He has three outstanding pitches. What you saw that I liked was that he incorporated the curveball that [plays] to both righties and lefties. It takes pressure off his changeup. Having said those things, the fastball command makes all of that work.”
Suarez’s sixth inning was forgettable to say the least, but it came at the tail end of yet another solid start. It’s clear that the young Angels pitcher is still transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, but each game sees a little bit more progress on that front.
As the Angels use the remainder of this season to make judgments on the roster and their plans moving forward, Suarez has done exactly what he needs to do to remain a part of next season’s starting rotation.
Shohei Ohtani still sees improvement as a pitcher
There’s no denying that Shohei Ohtani has exceeded all expectations for what he could accomplish this season as a batter and a pitcher. However, a 2.93 ERA isn’t enough proof for Ohtani, who still believes he has room to improve.
When discussing this season’s success, Ohtani made it clear that he thinks he has not hit his full pitching potential. If that’s the case, it’s a scary thought for what the Angels can be going into next year.