Los Angeles Angels starter Jose Suarez took to the mound on Sunday to face the Minnesota Twins in the series finale. With it figuring to be just his second-to-last start of the 2022 season, each performance could be an indicator for his future with the team.
Suarez took it as a chance to experiment, adding a new secondary slider that projects to be about four miles per hour faster than his normal slider. He threw it 33 times on Sunday, registering eight whiffs. In total, Suarez gave up just two earned runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six.
The start brought his season ERA down to 4.06 in a career-high 102 innings pitched. Suarez has seen slight dips in a number of major categories from his breakout 2021 campaign, but has been phenomenal since the All-Star break, posting a 2.84 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP since July 26.
Suarez spoke about the benefits of adding a secondary slider to his arsenal and how he felt about the pitch in its debut, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s a new grip that I have that I learned two days ago,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “It worked pretty well. Now I have two sliders. A slow one and a hard one. I throw this one like a fastball with the new grip.”
Before his final start of the season — and the beginning of a pivotal offseason for him and the Angels — interim manager Phil Nevin discussed exactly what he would like to see out of the 24-year old starter.
“I want to see him continue to try to work through that third time through the order,” Nevin said. “It’s been a problem for him before, and he’s learning to understand what he did earlier in a game with hitters and change it up later, but really pitch to his own strengths. It was nice to see him get through the bulk of that group the third time.”
Going deep into games has been a recurring issue for Suarez, with 5.2 frames being his fourth-longest start this season. He’s completed six innings just three times this season and finished seven innings twice.
Suarez has plenty to work on during the offseason, with the belief being that he’ll be in the starting rotation to begin the 2023 campaign. Of course, a lot can happen between now and April 2023, but Suarez has shown all the toold necessary to be a consistent Major League starter.
Trout and Ohtani finishing strong
Suarez secured his seventh win of the season in large part thanks to an offensive explosion by the Angels, who put up 10 runs in the finale. Trout — three extra-base hits — and Ohtani — 11-game hitting streak — have been using the final weeks of the season to try and finish strong.