The Los Angeles Angels went into Wednesday night with a chance to steal a road series from the Houston Astros, an opponent they’ve notoriously struggled against at Minute Maid Park. However, Joe Maddon decided to rock the boat and give days off to Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and David Fletcher, three players who have accounted for a majority of this season’s offensive production.
With the Angels having a legitimate chance to win the series, it’s easy to question what the motivation was for Maddon’s decision. Trout, Fletcher, and Upton have all been struggling to start the month of May, but they still provide a much more daunting task for opposing starting pitchers.
The result was a 9-1 Astros win, as bad offense coupled with pitching that gave up five home runs. Maddon defended his decision to rest some of his stars after the game, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I really believe when you could give regular players like that two consecutive days off, it could really be beneficial for what’s going to follow,” Maddon said. “I’ve done it before. Carl Crawford is the guy that taught me to do this several years ago and he always responded well. I thought it was the right thing to do today.”
“If you think someone needs a day off, you give it to them,” Maddon said. “Don’t try to put it off and make it fit in another way. I have a lot of confidence in the guys going out there tonight. You’re going to see some fresh bodies that are really eager to get out there and play.”
Within this, Maddon admitted that his stars are struggling, and perhaps a two-day break could serve as a reset for them ahead of some more difficult series’ to come. Trout is slashing .206/.386/.441 in the month of May, which is a significant downgrade considering he had the best month of his career in April.
Fletcher hasn’t been struggling as much to get hits, but outside of a .261 batting average, he hasn’t been great about getting on-base and making things easier for the players behind him. He also has had to play out of position for a few games with Jose Iglesias resting from back tightness.
Meanwhile, Upton has been horrible in May. He’s slashing .148/.258/.370, meaning he definitely needed the two days off. Hopefully, these three are ready to go for the Angels next series, a three-game road set against the Boston Red Sox.
Anthony Rendon nearing return
Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon is in the middle of his second stint on the injured list this season due to a knee contusion. His return is imminent, Maddon said recently, as he’s feeling close to 100%.