The Los Angeles Angels needed a starter for Monday’s game against the Texas Rangers after Shohei Ohtani’s sore thumb kept him off the mound. Joe Maddon and the Angels organization — for the second day in a row — went to their youth, turning to Chris Rodriguez to make his first MLB start. This came just one day after Reid Detmers made his MLB debut.
Not only did Rodriguez start, Jo Adell was called up to join the big league roster just before first pitch. All of this to say that the Angels are leaning towards their youth, changing their focus from just a week ago. Maddon will never concede this publicly, but all of their actions show the Angels are putting their focus squarely on 2022.
Maddon discussed the decision to bring Rodriguez and Adell up without admitting a concession on the 2021 season, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“We’re at that point, organizationally, right now (when) it’s the right time to give opportunity to young players like this,” Maddon said. “It’s very important for us going in the offseason to know exactly what we have, and what we need to do to move forward for next year. Having said that, that does not mean conceding anything at all.”
In terms of opportunity, Rodriguez certainly seized his. His line score of six innings pitched, three earned runs, four hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts doesn’t fully tell the tale. In short, Rodriguez was better than anyone could have expected, and really gave hope for a team that desperately needs to rely on young pitching.
Adell will get his first start in the outfield on Tuesday as the Angels lean into their youth. After a 3-1 series loss to the Oakland Athletics, it’s clear the team decided that seven games out was simply too much to come back from. They’re not trying to lose games, certainly, but giving young players the stage is the right move.
Reid Detmers has shaky debut
Not all debuts are going to look like Rodriguez, who had the advantage of already pitching out of the bullpen in the Majors. Detmers was solid — even great — for two innings, then lost his command on off-speed pitches, putting the Athletics offense at a huge advantage. Overall, he put together a game that showed promise despite looking rough ojn the box score.