Los Angeles Angels pitcher Patrick Sandoval has essentially been a stand-by for injured or rested starting pitchers this season. He’s filled in for Shohei Ohtani, Alex Cobb, and now Jose Quintana when needed, and has turned in solid performances each and every time. Because of various injuries and late-notice starts, Sandoval has started four games since May 17.
In those four outings, he has pitched 20 innings with an ERA of 3.15. He’s allowed just two homers in that span and has struck out 19 compared to only six walks. His best performance, however, came on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. It was in a losing effort, but Sandoval induced a 2021 MLB record 32 swings and misses en route to a 10-strikeout, one-walk effort over 6.0 innings. He allowed just three runs as well.
“Sandoval did a wonderful job,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He righted himself. He kept his composure and made his pitches. He had a really good fastball. The fastball held the velocity. They have a lot of lefties and he’s left-handed, but he did a nice job with the righties, too, with the change. I think his fastball command and changeup was really good and he started dropping in some sliders later. I think he had everything going on.”
“He’s taking the opportunity and running with it,” Maddon said. “I’ve always liked the stuff. For me, he’s just more comfortable in his Major League skin. Just the way he’s going about his day, even when he’s not pitching, and I think he’s been influenced in a good way from some other veteran starting pitchers. I think he’s morphing into a better version of a Major League pitcher just by handling the moment. I think stuff-wise, he’s the same, but it’s a better application of his stuff.”
Sandoval gave his perspective on his recent string of good outings and what it means for his confidence and his game.
“I felt good today,” Sandoval said. “I had my stuff working for a majority of the game. I’m just happy I could step in and give quality innings for the team.”
“It’s good that Joe trusted me in the sixth and get to 100 [pitches],” Sandoval said. “That was awesome.”
It’s unclear what will happen if the Angels decide to stick with Sandoval as the sixth pitcher in the rotation. It could mean the end of Quintana’s short stint with the team, as Cobb has been dealing as of late. Designating Quintana for assignment would likely be the move, but it’s not one Maddon would be happy to make.
It’s also possible that they keep Sandoval in sort of stand-by role, knowing they can be more cautious with their six starters because they have a seventh ready to go at all times. Either way, Sandoval is not going to go away any time soon after what he’s done recently.
Maddon believes Jose Suarez can be a starting pitcher
When discussing the starter rotation, Maddon also doesn’t want to leave Jose Suarez out of it. This season, he’s had a few chances to be a long reliever, and has played the part very well. Because of that, Maddon sees an eventual move to the rotation for him.
Given the crowded nature of the Angels rotation currently, that appears to be a move for next season, when some of their current starters become free agents and potentially move on to other teams.