Los Angeles Angels starter Jose Suarez is still trying to prove he can be a part of a winning rotation. And although his work since the All-Star break has been strong, his start against the Seattle Mariners pointed to a troublesome trend in Suarez’s work.
The first time through the order, Suarez limited the Mariners to one run on two hits. The second time through, he allowed two hits and one walk. But the third time, he lasted just five batters, recording one out and giving up a grand slam to go along with two other hits and a walk. In total he allowed five runs on seven hits in a 9-1 Angels loss.
This tracks with his season statistics in this realm. Prior to Monday’s start, opposing batters had a .520 OPS their first time facing Suarez, a .771 OPS the second time, and a 1.045 OPS the third time. Suarez’s average start this season has lasted just about 5.0 innings.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin discussed Suarez’s struggles going deep into games and facing batters multiple times, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s a learning experience for a pitcher,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “The good ones understand how you’ve gotten a guy out early, and then maybe you try something a little different and attack the hitter differently later. We’ve talked to him about it. But that inning was more about losing the strike zone.”
For Suarez, the problems lasted the entire start, as he focused more on difficulties with locating pitches all the way back to the first inning.
“From the start of the game, I just wasn’t locating my pitches like I usually do,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “I haven’t thrown against these guys many times. This was my fourth time I faced them [this year]. I had been pitching well, but today I just didn’t have my pitches. I couldn’t make it through the sixth inning. If you don’t have your pitches, it’s tough to control the game.”
The Angels would love for Suarez to be a part of the long-term plan. Having a young, talented starter with team control is always an ideal situation for a team, but Suarez has some things to fix before he can take the reigns in a rotation with winning expectations.
At the moment, the Angels do not have the pitching depth — both in the rotation and the bullpen — to handle a starter that struggles to make it past five innings routinely. As the offseason nears, that must become Suarez’s top priority.
Nevin happy with closer by committee
The Halos have employed a multi-closer system since trading Raisel Iglesias to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. Jimmy Herget, Jose Quijada, Aaron Loup, and Ryan Tepera have all had chances to be the closer, and it has carried some mixed results.
Despite that, Nevin appears to be happy with what he’s seen from the bullpen, but is still hopeful to make a decision on a closer before next season.