The final series before the All-Star break was relatively symbolic of the Los Angeles Angels’ complete downward spiral. With Mike Trout sidelined due to back spasms, almost making a return before being scratched just minutes before first pitch, the Angels were completely dismantled by the L.A. Dodgers.
They lost the two-game set by a total score of 16-2, and were swept in the season Freeway Series with a total score of 22-3. After starting 27-17, the Angels went 12-36 in their final 48 games before the break. In that span, their offense ranked in the bottom three in nearly every category.
And Trout — who remained relatively healthy before back spasms knocked him out of the team’s final four games — was among the most frustrated at the way things turned out, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s frustrating not being out there,” Trout said. “All the guys are out there and battling and they’re grinding. I want to be out there with them. But I think everybody could use the break to reset. It’s a longer break than usual. Just reset the mind and reset the body and come out fresh in the second half.”
Trout put up a .967 OPS with 24 home runs in the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the Angels got to a point where they could only win games in which Shohei Ohtani was the starting pitcher. They have not won a game that he didn’t start since June 27 and are 6-22 in their last 28 games when he wasn’t the starter.
Put simply, Trout and Ohtani have done just about everything in their power, but it hasn’t been nearly enough. Angels manager Phil Nevin shared Trout’s frustration, but also his hope for a reset.
“It’s been a struggle offensively and there’s no secret with that,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “But I’ve said all along offense can be contagious sometimes. You go on runs. We’re not at full strength, but it’s not an excuse. We haven’t got much production out of the bottom of the lineup. And it’s turned over to the top where they haven’t been quite what they were earlier. Losing Anthony [Rendon] for an extended period and now Mike, it hurts the entire team. Making adjustments on the fly is very difficult, but I expect it to change once we get into the second half.”
If the Angels are going to make a second half turnaround, it needs to be relatively immediate. Their next game is on July 22 against the Atlanta Braves, and they have until the Aug. 2 trade deadline to figure out the direction of the team.
If they can get on a quick winning streak, it might convince general manager Perry Minasian to take a calculated risk in buying a talented player at the deadline. But if they continue to play the way they’ve been playing, the Angels would be wise to sell some MLB talent and build up again for next season.
The Angels have often been accused of near “toxic” positivity this season. Essentially, remaining outwardly positive to the point of being blind to the very obvious flaws on the roster. Trout and Nevin finally let some frustrations out, but showed more of that relentless positivity for the second half.
Angels picking 13th in 2022 Draft
The 2022 MLB Draft begins Sunday afternoon at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. The first two rounds (picks 1-80) will take place on Sunday, via both ESPN and MLB Network. And on Day 1, the Angels have just one pick.
They hold the No. 13 overall selection, and they’ll quickly make a decision on bringing in yet another top pitching prospect, or shifting back to position players, where they went each year from 2015-19.