Angels News: Joe Maddon Hoping Team ‘Catches Fire’ Before Trade Deadline
Shohei Ohtani, Luis Rengifo. Brian Butterfield, Max Stassi, 2021 Season
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels face a very big decision with regard to the rest of their 2021 season, and it’s a question that all middling teams have to answer. When the July 30 trade deadline comes, the Angels need to decide if they’re going to be buyers or sellers, and Joe Maddon would prefer to take as many of those remaining days as possible to decide.

The Angels will play 13 games between July 16 and the trade deadline, and all 13 games are going to matter in the decision-making of general manager Perry Minasian. If the Angels can play well above .500 baseball in this stretch, they could look to add pieces in the hopes of making a playoff push. If they lose a series or two, it might be time to sell valuable veterans on expiring contracts.

Maddon understands that the odds of a playoff push are relatively slim, but he believes in the team’s ability to go on a run if they’re fully healthy, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

“I get the math,” Maddon said. “I’m not stupid. But I also know when a team catches fire how that could really put the whole thing upside down. And we’ve been doing better, but we haven’t necessarily caught fire yet. And I really want to believe getting everybody back we will.

“But even having said that, a big part of igniting is to really pitch well. That’s probably the most important thing. We’re getting really good players back, but we have to pitch at a level that you can go out there and a nightly basis and win some really close games.

“And so that all has to be weighed into the equation. It’s not just about getting Rendon, Michael and J-Up up back. We have to pitch at the level that permits that to happen too.”

According to FanGraphs, the Angels have a 15.2% chance of making the postseason. They currently sit 9.0 games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West, which is a steep, but not impossible gap to clear. However, their more likely path is through the Wild Card.

The Halos are 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, currently being held by the Oakland Athletics. That’s a much more feasible jump if the team decides to act as buyers. However, the Angels have to jump fives teams — the Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees — if they want to make it happen.

Maddon knows the odds are against them — an 84.8% chance of missing the playoffs — but he can see something in this team that makes him believe the second half will be different. Hopefully, the Angels prove him right as early as possible.

Minasian aiming for top-10 pitching staff

Minasian did not have a specific record or placement in mind when discussing the second half of the season, but he did have a lofty goal for his pitching staff. When looking at what needs to be fixed in the second half, Minasian said he was looking for a top-10 pitching staff to try and turn things around.

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