Angels’ Joe Maddon: Pitching Success Due To Mental Changes Within Young Starters
Patrick Sandoval, 2021 Season
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Maddon and the Los Angeles Angels have fully embraced the youth of their starting pitching staff. Beyond Chris Rodriguez and Reid Detmers, the Angels have seen otherworldly strides taken by Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria, and Jose Suarez. In fact, those three have been so good this season that there could be concern that it’s unsustainable.

Sandoval had a 5.03 and a 5.65 ERA in his first two big league seasons. In 2021, he’s down 3.39 and was two outs away from a no-hitter. Barria — after an incredible 2018 rookie season — failed to recapture that magic in 2019 and 2020, but seems to have found something this year. Suarez had a 7.99 ERA through his first two seasons, and is now sporting a 3.60 ERA.

So while all of these improvements could lead people to believe that this is some sort of fluke, Maddon sees something different. Always the optimist, Maddon thinks that these three pitchers have made the strides they’ve made due to mental changes, making it much more likely that they remain at this level, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

“Internally, they’ve changed,” Maddon said. “They’re not as uptight. They’re not as much worried about making mistakes. They’re getting the sense or feeling that they belong here. And with that, you are seeing what everybody else saw in the minor leagues.

“Some guys are just not ready to show you (in the majors), and you have to be patient. And then when they finally believe that they belong here, and internally, they can relax and breathe, then the game slows down. And then you see it.”

If Maddon is right and these three pitchers are here to stay, then it drastically changes the plans for the Angels moving forward. Pitching has been such a constant need for this team, but if they can go into the 2022 season with Sandoval, Suarez, Barria, Shohei Ohtani, Chris Rodriguez, and Reid Detmers as their six-man rotation, they may not be in bad shape.

Perhaps their goal in the offseason — instead of landing a superstar pitcher — has changed to simply adding one or two trusted veterans that could take the place of any of the Angels’ young pitchers if it turns out that their performance wasn’t sustainable.

Regardless of what they do in free agency, the Angels can finally — for the first time in years — look at their starting rotation and say they have stability.

Detmers bounced back against Dodgers

Detmers was given quite the task by having to face the L.A. Dodgers in his second career start, and things started almost as bad as they could have. Detmers and the Angels defense gave up five runs in two innings, leading to an early bullpen call.

However, Detmers rebuffed this by throwing three scoreless innings to turn his nightmare of an opening into a relatively decent second start.

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