Heading into the 2022 season, it felt as though the Los Angeles Angels had finally made the kinds of strides they needed to compete for a postseason berth. Perry Minasian addressed pitching needs in a big way, shelling out significant money in the bullpen and landing Noah Syndergaard.
And for the first 44 games of the season, everything was working exactly to plan. The Angels were a force offensively, and their pitching ranked high enough to win the team several games. At 27-17, L.A. was atop the AL West and looked to be a legitimate contender.
Then, the offense went ice cold. The pitching took a dive as well, and it led to a 14-game losing streak and the firing of manager Joe Maddon. Phil Nevin took over as interim manager, and things haven’t gotten better. The Angels are 11-20 since Nevin took the helm, and are 11-32 since holding that 27-17 record.
In a stretch where virtually nothing has gone right, it’s almost difficult to find where to place the blame. But for Minasian, the answer is simple, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“Yeah, I think you always look back and say ‘I wish I added this, and I wish I added that,’” Minasian said on Sunday. “I think it’s human nature to go back and look in the rearview mirror and see what you could have done differently. The rotation was a huge priority for us. If you asked anybody who watched the club last year what our No. 1 need was, I think the word pitching would have been front and center, probably multiple times before the word hitting came up.”
“There’s no individual person I’m putting blame on,” Minasian said. “I’m in charge of building the club and these are the players I’ve given the staff to work with.”
Here, Minasian takes a large portion of the blame for the on-field product, but didn’t want to get bogged down by hypotheticals. Injuries to Anthony Rendon and David Fletcher certainly didn’t help matters, but a staggering lack of offensive depth should have been apparent from Day 1.
Yes, pitching was the primary need. And while Minasian did take steps to solve it, it’s easy to argue that he didn’t go far enough, only landing one impact starter — one who had pitched two innings since 2019 — and a few bullpen arms.
Minasian remains confident, though, in each pitchers’ ability to turn things around this season. He especially focused on Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup, and Ryan Tepera, who have all struggled at various points this season.
“All three guys are professionals and they know what they’re doing,” Minasian said. “They know how to maneuver through lineups, and I expect them to be really good the rest of the season.”
But while he was focused on pitching, Minasian almost completely neglected the other side of the ball. Tyler Wade, Andrew Velazquez, and Matt Duffy were not going to provide the type of production needed, especially if players got injured.
Fletcher and Rendon going down showed just how dire the situation was. Michael Stefanic and Jonathan Villar have been interesting stopgap options, but it’s clear the Angels needed to land more impactful depth in the offseason.
Now, the questions turn to the future. Between now and the trade deadline, the Angels must decide if they are going to buy or sell, and the next few weeks of games will largely determine that.
Ohtani named All-Star in both phases
In a bit of good news, Shohei Ohtani was — for the second straight year — named an All-Star as both a batter and a pitcher. Over the weekend, Ohtani was awarded the starting designated hitter spot after winning a close vote over Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros.
He then was selected as one of the American League pitchers after putting together arguably his best stretch as a pitcher since joining MLB.