There are two ways that Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian could look at the first half of the season. He could be disappointed that the Angels are, once again, on the outside looking in at the playoff standings despite a historically great first half from Shohei Ohtani. Or, he could be happy that the team is over .500 despite atrocious pitching and injuries to multiple top players.
The Angels were projected, by Fangraphs, to be an 85-86 win team at the beginning of the season. Through the first half, they’re on an 82-win pace despite not having Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, or Justin Upton for a large chunk of the season. They’re also on that pace despite a pitching staff that is 26th in ERA, 22nd in quality starts, 27th in WHIP, 20th in OBA, and third in walks allowed.
Minasian is choosing to look at things through the first lens, expressing disappointment in the way some of his players have performed. However, he hasn’t lost hope that the Angels can turn things around, especially with regard to the pitching staff, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“We’ve had some guys that have not performed up to their capabilities,” Minasian said just before the All-Star break. “Hopefully in the second half things change, and we go from being where we are, from a standings standpoint regarding to pitching, to being a top-five, top-10 pitching team the second half of the season. We do feel there are some young guys on the cusp of being here and affecting this club. And we also expect better results from the individuals that we have on the club.”
Starting pitching has been the real disappointment for the Angels this season. Their bullpen — while underperforming — has had significant bright spots and was pieced together just a few days before the season started. The starting rotation was supposed to be a positive factor, but Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning, and Jose Quintana all deeply struggled, and ended up in the bullpen or in Triple-A.
Going into the second half, the Angels could be banking on finally having some cohesion on their staff. Their starting rotation is now filled with guys who have played well this season — Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, and Alex Cobb — while their bullpen has made a huge impact in recent weeks.
A top-10 pitching staff seems unlikely given just how bad they were in the first half, but it’s not out of the question that they’ll see significant improvement. This is especially if the offense is at full strength to take more pressure off of them.
Angels add Adam Eaton
While he no longer the game-changer he may have been a few years ago, the Angels could do much worse than their addition of Adam Eaton over the All-Star break. Eaton was released by the Chicago White Sox earlier this month due to offensive struggled, but fills a need perfectly in Anaheim with Angels outfielders still on the mend.